Over the past year, the number of sexual assault reports on K-State property almost tripled, according to K-State’s Annual Campus Security and Fire Safety Report.
Ronnie Grice, assistant vice president of the Division of Public Safety and director of the K-State Police Department, said eight forcible sexual offenses were reported to the campus police in 2013. In 2014, the number of reported sexual assaults jumped from eight to 23 for all reporting university organizations.
Grice said the increase in reported sexual assaults is due to the change in conditions made by the Jeanne Clery Act, which now requires all sexual assault reports on campus to be included in the overall published report.
According to the Clery Center website, the act is a law that requires all colleges and universities that receive federal funding to share information about crime on campus as well as their efforts to improve campus safety. The information is to be published in each school’s annual safety reports.
“You have incidents that are reported to other areas on campus other than the police department,” Grice said. “Those areas are the Office of Institutional Equity, (the Office of) Student Life and some to the Women’s Center.”
Three fondling cases and one rape case were reported in 2014 to campus police, and the department conducted full investigations into each, Grice said.
Dorinda Lambert, director of K-State Counseling Services, said that although the jump in report numbers seems drastic at first glance, it may be because of a recent positive outlook on reporting sexual assault. She said she believes that society now understands that sexual assault is unacceptable and is listening to the voices of men and women who have been sexually assaulted.
Maddie Musil, junior in political science, said she sees sexual assault on the K-State campus as something hard to avoid.
“From an optimistic standpoint, (the numbers) do surprise me,” Musil said. “I’ve always thought of K-State as a safe and healthy environment, so it is scary to think there has been that large of an increase.”
Although Musil said her outlook on K-State’s campus is generally positive, she said she believes sexual assault has been an issue for some time and figured it was only a matter of time before report numbers caught up to K-State.
“With the culture of partying and going out changing and becoming more a part of everyday life, it would be naïve to assume reports would go down rather than continue to increase,” Musil said.
Lambert said that race, gender, ethnicity and sexuality do not show up as significant factors in who is a victim of sexual assault because a lot of incidents go unreported, and due to this, it is difficult to gather accurate statistics on the types of people who get sexually assaulted.
At Counseling Services, Lambert said they see women who seek support after their assaults, but she does not believe these are the only people who experience sexual assault.
Grice said he feels that what is reported to authorities can, statistically, be completely different than what is actually happening.
“A crime is a crime, no matter what color you are or your gender,” Grice said. “The individual or victim has to be willing to work with (the police department), so we can resolve what has happened.”
According to both Grice and Lambert’s experiences, the victim’s perpetrator is usually a friend or acquaintance.
“The situations that lead up to that event are unknown, and some may not want to get others in trouble,” Grice said. “It is all depending on the individual and what they are willing to report.”
Reporting such incidents is encouraged at Counseling Services and campus police department, as well as at other organizations around campus, according to Lambert.
“As a center that is interested in social justice, we encourage any victim, male or female, to have their voice and help make changes in what is happening out there,” Lambert said.