Security report released

A few days prior to the October 1 deadline, the Colby Department of Security released its Annual Security Report in compliance with the Clery Act, which supplements the guide- lines of Title IX. In 2014, the College saw decreases in crimes including theft and forcible sex offenses, but saw a rise in off-campus burglaries.

While Title IX is designed to promote equal opportunities on campus, the Clery Act requires that all colleges and universities who participate in federal financial aid programs must disclose crime statistics related to their students and faculty. Named after Jeanne Clery, who was raped and murdered in a Lehigh University dormitory in 1986, the act stipulates that the Annual Report must contain information on crime over the prior three years.

The statistics include categories such as murder, sex offenses, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, auto theft, and arson. The Clery Report also includes drug and alcohol-related ar- rests, and referrals as well as hate crime incidents. According to Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Jim Terhune, “the number that’s in Clery reflects every report that we [the Office of Student Affairs] get and that’s not only to security. Some students don’t report it to security, they report it through other mechanisms and we’re responsible to provide Clery reporting to security.” Director of Security Peter Chenevert confirmed via email that “all of the [sex offense] reports came to Security through the Dean’s Office.”

Though colleges and universities have been plagued by an epidemic of sexual assaults in recent years, according to the College’s official report, the number of reported sex crimes at Colby is far fewer than many other NESCACs. In 2014, Colby reported four “forcible sex of- fenses,” a decrease from the eight reported in 2013, though more than the two cases in 2012. By contrast, in 2014, Bowdoin College’s report cited 15 on-campus rapes—up from six in 2013— while Bates College cited eight sex related crimes for the second year in a row. These numbers were comparably low to the statistics released by Trinity College and Wesleyan College, the former citing 37 reports in 2014 while the latter reported 38.

However, as outlined in the October 14, 2014 Boston Globe article, “Sexual assaults climb at area colleges,” low numbers like Colby’s may suggest that a campus has a problem rather than a solution. According to the article, the recent national attention toward sexual violence education and prevention has led to an astronomical increase in reports. In stark contrast to their numbers in 2014, Wesleyan reported only one forcible sex offense in 2012.

When asked about this trend, Dean Terhune declined to speculate on the reasons behind Colby’s low numbers. However, he made clear that the College has undertaken many mea- sures to better educate the student body and provide support for victims. “It’s a constantly evolving thing,” Terhune said. Starting last year, the College implemented two required one-hour sexual assault workshops for first year students, while sophomores participate in one 90-minute bystander intervention seminar. Terhune also pointed to the work done by Director of Gender and Sexual Diversity Emily Schusterbauer, as well as the mass-distributed sexual misconduct booklets as other ways the Administration has been working to better empower Colby students to stop the trend of assaults. “We’re paying constant attention and saying to ourselves ‘how we can do this just a little bit better?’”

Terhune and the Administration are also working on ways to incentivize victims to report crimes and provide them with proper support. “Reporting…is one of the great challenges,” Terhune said. “We are trying to put in place reporting procedures and options, support procedures and options, and a disciplinary process that encourages people to report. We want everyone to report. I know there is a public perception out there, not necessarily at Colby, there is a public perception that colleges want to conceal when this happens. I’ll speak for myself—I’m pretty sure I’m speaking pretty candidly for the college—but we don’t want to do that…Transparency, being open, is how we’re going to make Colby a safer place.”

Terhune also noted that students will be given access to the results of the Sexual Assault Campus Climate Survey that was conducted this past April. The survey, conducted by Colby in partnership with the Higher Education Data Sharing (HEDS) Consortium, uses student feed-back to gauge the prevalence of sexual violence and harassment on college campuses, both individually and as an aggregate. Terhune noted that the College joined the survey because “the more we can learn, the better off we will be.” While the College is not required to distribute the survey results, Terhune stated that “we’re going to be releasing our information, from my understanding, this week.”

While the College has taken many positive steps toward ridding Colby’s campus of sexual violence, there are still many challenges ahead. Chenevert noted that the Colby Security Department has already been notified by the Dean’s Office of one sexual assault this year.

To view Colby’s Annual Security Report, visit https:// www.colby.edu/securitydept/ and click the eponymous tab at the top.