Campus / Community / News / October 19, 2016

Reported drug abuse, sexual assault decreases

(Donna Boguslavsky and Mariel Guzman/TKS)

(Donna Boguslavsky and Mariel Guzman/TKS)

Drug referrals and sexual assault have both gone down on campus since 2014, according to the new 2016 Fire & Safety Report uploaded to the Knox website on Sept. 30.

The numbers in the 2016 report show that sexual assault reports have gone down since last year. However, all cases reported in the 2015 academic year are filed as 2015 incidents, regardless of whether or not they happened in that year. This skews the numbers slightly and many cases still go unreported.

The Annual Safety report is in compliance with federal government clery definitions and standards. Campus Safety Director Mark Welker and Title IX Coordinator Kim Schrader are two of the most involved individuals in the production of the report, which is published annually in September.

Schrader and Welker choose not to pinpoint these numbers on any one thing in particular.

“We hope that number is zero, but on the other hand, if you look at national statistics, you know what those numbers are, so, [disclosure] allows people to have access to services and resources and get help and get care. I think that we have increased a lot of the programming É we’ve made changes in the resolution process, but it would be hard to credit anyone in particular,” Schrader said.

The number of drug referrals, which are usually initiated by residence advisors or Campus Safety, has also decreased dramatically in the last few years. In 2013, there were 43 drug referrals, and in 2015, there were 18.

Welker echoed a similar sentiment as to why these numbers have exhibited a downward trend, but hopes that it’s a good sign.

“It’s all about the behavior of people and what we’re made aware of and what we document, so what I would really like to think is that the behavior of the students or individuals on campus has changed and that’s what’s bringing that down.”

The 2015 calendar year was also the first year in several that a hate crime was reported. The crime fell under “intimidation” and while the clery report does not mandate the exact incident to be explained in the report, Welker and Schrader guess that this was one of the two KKK incidents that have occurred in the last couple of years.

One major change in the report is the inclusion of active shooter awareness in the opening safety section. The paragraph states that Knox will present an active shooter protocol program to students annually. This couples the new protocol posters that can be seen in the hallways of many buildings on campus.

“We’re going to open up a class in the near future on active shooter awareness, and that’s really what it boils down to, is being aware, because there’s no cookbook for it if you know what I’m saying. This is what happens and this is what you do to save your life, you’re never quite sure of how the scenario is going to play out,” Welker said.

Besides that addition, Knox doesn’t have a lot of freedom in what gets put into the report. The report is mandated by the Department of Education, and the definitions of crimes and what crimes are reported are all dictated by a thick handbook.

That handbook was updated this year for the first time in several years, and the changes are apparent in both the definitions and numbers of crimes reported.

In previous years, sexual assault was divided into two categories: forcible sexual misconduct, which included rape, sodomy, fondling and sexual assault with an object. The second category was non-forcible sexual misconduct, which included incest and statutory rape.

This year, the two categories were eliminated and sexual assault is now divided into just four different labels: rape, fondling, incest and statutory rape.

The reasons for changing the divisions were unclear to Schrader, who emphasized that these definitions are not Knox’s definitions of sexual misconduct, but rather the federal government’s. Students will not find Knox’s sexual misconduct policy in this report and if they want to learn more about that, should read Knox’s Title IX webpage.

Despite the report being mandated by the government so that students and faculty can have a better idea of what’s going on on their campus, Welker knows it is easy to make assumptions based on the numbers.

“They will go up and they will go down and you have to be careful how you choose to translate that,” they said.

Erika Riley, Editor-in-Chief
Erika Riley is a junior majoring in creative writing and minoring in journalism. During her sophomore year, she worked as a news editor, and during her freshman year, she worked as a layout editor. She is the winner of the 2017 Ida M. Tarbell Prize for Investigative Reporting and the recipient of First Place Front Page Layout from the Illinois Press Association in 2016. Twitter: @ej_riley

Tags:  drug usage fire and safety log sexual assault

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