Ithaca College’s Office of Public Safety and Emergency Management has seen an increase in reported rape cases, weapons violations and drug violations, according to the 2016 Annual Security and Fire Safety Report.
The report compiles data of security and fire incidents that took place on and off campus during the calendar year of 2015 and includes previous data from 2013 and 2014. The college releases the annual report by Oct. 1 each year in compliance with a federal mandate.
Reported rape cases double
The number of rape cases doubled by 100 percent, from four in 2014 to eight in 2015. All of the 2015 rapes were reported in on-campus housing.
However, Title IX Coordinator Tiffani Ziemann said she does not believe the number of rapes is increasing but instead that more victims are reporting the cases as sexual assault as education and awareness are increasing on campus.
“I think this increase happened because students, faculty and staff are now much more aware of their ability to report and how to report. … I don’t think more rapes are happening on campus. I think more students are reporting them,” Ziemann said. “What I expect to happen is that those numbers will continue to go up.”
However, Ziemann acknowledged that there is no way to confirm that the higher number of documented rapes is can be attributed to an increase in reporting and not an increase in actual crime.
“It’s hard to say without other data if that means the number of rapes and assaults are increasing or if it’s just the number of reports that are increasing,” Ziemann said. “I tend to believe that it’s the number of reports are increasing because that is the trend nationally.”
The number of reports of on-campus sexual assault at four-year colleges in the U.S. increased by 49 percent from 2008 to 2012, according to an NPR analysis of data from the Department of Education.
Tom Dunn, lieutenant in the Office of Public Safety and Emergency Management, said he also believes that awareness and education is growing, which he said is the reason that the number of reported rape cases is rising.
“We’ve always known our sexual assaults are an under-reported statistic, that’s colleges nationally, but I think with the outreach of Title IX, having people more educated, I think the reporting numbers are increasing, that doesn’t mean the crimes are increasing, just the fact that people are reporting is increasing,” Dunn said.
Drug violations increase 138 percent
The number of drug violations increased by 138 percent last year, from 241 in 2014 to 333 in 2015, according to the report.
Dunn said he believes the “significant increase” is due to resident assistants’ reporting more cases, along with bystander intervention.
“We have RAs that enforce things inside res[idence] halls. We have a student patrol that enforces. We have security officers that enforce. We have patrol officers that enforce,” Dunn said. “All of the enforcement functions I think lend itself to having higher numbers, because you have more people out there looking for it, detecting it, and reporting it.”
Though the number of drug violations dramatically increased, the number of alcohol violations remained close to the number of cases from the previous year. The only difference between the two years was one alcohol violation — 342 alcohol violations in 2014 and 341 in 2015. The number of cases the past two years is relatively low compared to the 870 alcohol violations in 2010. For the most part since 2010, alcohol violations have continued to decrease consistently.
These statistics come from the period preceding the Office of Residential Life’s recently implemented alcohol policy, which prohibits “high-risk drinking paraphernalia” such as beer pong tables, beer bongs or funnels. Michael Leary, assistant director for the Office of Judicial Affairs, said he is “encouraged” by the 2015 numbers because they are almost a third of those in 2009.
However, he predicted that the numbers may rise next year because of students’ lack of knowledge of the new policy, resulting in more violations.
“We may see the numbers … go up a little bit, if students, especially returning students, aren’t used to not being able to have a beer pong table, or something like that,” Leary said. “We’re trying to eliminate alcohol paraphernalia because we feel like that goes hand-in-hand with high–risk drinking.”
Weapons violations quadruple
The number of weapons violations on campus quadrupled increased by 300 percent from two in 2014 to eight in 2015. Violations included the possession of a firearm and possessions of paintball or BB guns. Possession of a weapon on a college campus is illegal in New York State. Dunn said Public Safety is aware of the increase and that most violations are for paintball style weapons. Dunn said he only recalls one incident where a firearm was found in a car on campus in 2015.
Andrew Kosinuk, crime prevention and community events liaison, said Public Safety is trying to educate the campus community on what a weapon is.
“What does occur is people inadvertently violating the policies,” Kosinuk said. “What we would like people to do is look at the online resources … a lot of time offices will have materials online that simplify [the policy] for them.”
Burglaries on campus have decreased by half from 26 in 2014, to 13 in 2015. Dunn credits the decrease to students’ “being diligent about locking doors.” He said the primary targets for burglaries were the Circle Apartments and the Quads.
Dunn said he does not want to disclose Public Safety’s strategies for preventing additional burglaries. He did confirm that they have additional patrols in “high activity” areas.
“We would target an area, or direct officers to an area that’s having activity,” Dunn said.
Despite increases in some violations, Dunn said he does not want the campus community to be worried about higher crime statistics. He said the increase is a sign that Public Safety is out investigating and reporting crimes.
“I think that crime statistical numbers, even if they’re increasing, shows the level of Ithaca College identifying what’s occurring, and documenting it, reporting it and investigating it,” Dunn said. “Places that sometimes have a low number might not be reporting [crimes,] … I’m not sure that high statistics are always a reflection that there’s a problem.”