By Phoebe Suy | Staff Writer
Baylor reported 11 on-campus rapes in 2016, according to the 2017 Annual Fire Safety and Security Report, which was released October 1. This is a significant shift from the 23 sexual assaults reported in 2015.
Clery compliance manager Shelley Deats said nine of the reports from 2015 were cases from a few years prior that were just now being brought to the surface.
In late 2014, Baylor hired their first full-time Title IX coordinator, and in early 2015 Deats was hired as the first Clery compliance manager.
“Over the past two years, Baylor’s Title IX Office has made tremendous strides related to prevention, education and responding to sexual assault within our campus community through the It’s On Us BU Campaign,” the university said in a statement. “Some of the many efforts campus-wide have included bystander intervention training for all incoming freshmen and transfer students, a full-time training and prevention specialist and an updated Sexual and Gender-Based Harassment and Interpersonal Violence Policy based on national best practices. Baylor University remains committed to undergirding these efforts as we work each and every day to eradicate the scourge of interpersonal violence from our campus community.”
Deats said she believes that as people became educated about the resources available to them, they felt more comfortable coming forward and reporting crimes or assaults, accounting for the spike in numbers in 2015 to 23 reports. The number of reported on-campus rapes in 2014 was five.
“We saw that slide come back down again this year because we’re not collecting a lot of older data like we were last year,” Deats said. “Now I’d like to think that we’re a little bit more caught up and that people are coming forward on a more timely basis.”
The Clery Act emphasizes transparency, making compliance to the act significantly nuanced and detail-oriented. According to Deats, there are numerous factors to consider when looking at Clery crime statistics, such as geography and the date of report.
Clery crimes are counted the first date of report to a university or campus security authority, not the date of the incident. For example, in the case of the nine assaults reported in the 2015 campus crime statistics, the nine crimes did not necessarily occur in 2015, but they were made known to Baylor authorities that year.
Clery geography not only includes the main university campus, but also branch locations such as the Louise Herrington School of Nursing or the Baylor in New York program.
Hypothetically speaking, Deats said if students travel routinely to a certain hotel and stay three consecutive nights, that hotel would also be counted in the Clery statistics if a crime occurred, even though Baylor does not have any ownership of the property. The contracted agreement for Baylor students to stay there constitutes Clery geography. For example, Deats said if the students stayed on the second floor of the hotel, any crimes that occur on the second floor or any of the thoroughfares to get to the floor would be counted as a Clery crime.
Furthermore, if a burglary took place in a suite-style apartment with a common area and four lockable suites, Deats said in the realm of Clery reporting, she would need to count each room as a separate burglary. If there was an instance with three or four roommates in the same residential location, one crime could potentially count as four burglaries.
It is important to understand some of the details considered when counting Clery crime statistics because the numbers alone do not always tell the whole story. It might be too simple to say Baylor has “X” number of assaults, whereas a school with similar demographics like Southern Methodist University or Texas Christian University may have “Y” or “Z.” Multiple factors must be taken into consideration such as campus size, educational travel and date of report.
“A lot of people automatically equate a high number with negativity, like oh my goodness so many crimes happened,” Deats said. “But looking at that from another perspective…I will say the more people we educate, the more people will feel comfortable enough to come forward. That may mean a spike in numbers, but that means that we know about it and we can help them. We can improve their quality of life and we can also prove to people that we won’t be silenced and we won’t tolerate that on our campus.”
The Annual Fire Safety and Security Report is a federally mandated report following the implementation of the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Crime Statistics Act (Clery Act) in 1990. The Clery Act requires all colleges and universities receiving federal funding to provide information regarding on-campus crime as well as crimes that occur in certain off-campus buildings or properties owned, leased or controlled by Baylor.