Reports of Rape at Marist on the Rise, According to Recent Report
The Marist College Office of Safety and Security annual Security and Fire Safety Report for 2017 showed an increased number of reported rapes on campus and a relatively steady number of overall reported crimes.
The record provides statistics of all crimes reported to the Office of Safety and Security in the 2017 year and two years prior, in addition to institutional policies relating to campus security.
This year’s report shows that, in 2017, there were two instances of burglary, one motor vehicle theft, 62 disciplinary referrals for drug abuse violations, and 491 for liquor law violations.
The Office of Safety and Security has additionally reported two dating violence offenses, two instances of fondling, and six rapes on campus in 2017-- an increase from the 4 reported for the previous two years.
According to Director of Safety and Security John Blaisdell, it is not known if the increase of reports is due to a rise in crime on campus or if students are just becoming more aware of, and in turn comfortable with, how to report these incidents.
“I believe sexual misconduct is underreported,” said Blaisdell, “and we would like to have it reported.”
Blaisdell also stated that one of the six recorded incidents of rape included in the annual report was a delayed report, meaning that the incident had happened before 2017.
In 2016, there were four reports of rape, three reports of dating violence, and zero reports of fondling. In 2015, there were also four reported rapes and zero fondlings, but two dating violence incidents.
These statistics follow a two-part online Title IX training course that students were required to complete early in the semester. According to Ed Freer, Deputy Title IX Coordinator at Marist, 55 percent of undergraduate students on campus completed the mandatory required training.
Aside from freshmen and transfers, most of the students who completed the training were those involved in club leadership positions, athletics, and Greek life. If these upperclassmen students, in particular, failed to complete the course, they would be barred from these leadership positions until the training was submitted.
“I’m not unhappy with [the number of students who have taken the survey],” said Freer. “But I would have liked to see everyone do it.”
The effectiveness of online sexual assault training is up for debate, however. In a sexual assault forum presented at Marist last year, students who had experienced rape and sexual assault on campus in the past voiced concerns over the lack of authentic prevention measures Marist takes.
One victim, whose real name was not used in an article published by The Circle last year, had previously expressed frustration with how Marist handled sexual assault reports in the past.
She said it took seven months for the investigation to end. “The process was long, and really draining. It’s just a constant reminder of the trauma you’ve already been through.”
Freer explained that some of the cases reported to the Title IX office are done so in confidentiality and must be kept that way, leaving Freer only with the notion that an attack occurred. Confidential reports come from entities such as Health Services or any kind of medical personnel, as well as any religious figures on campus.
Similarly, unless a report is made by a student directly to the Office of Safety and Security instead of the Title IX Office, the role of campus security is to tally the number of incidents and report the results to the community to spread awareness about what is happening on campus, as stated by Blaisdell.
However, both the Office of Safety and Security as well as the Title IX staff are making strides in terms of taking action to further prevent sexual assaults on campus.
According to Blaisdell, campus security is looking into technology that they believe would be helpful to students if there was ever a moment they felt unsafe on campus.
In addition to technology, Freer explained that the Title IX office will be distributing a climate survey data sometime in February, as mandated by the New York State Law 129-B “Enough is Enough.”
Freer hopes to get numerous responses for the survey, as it provides student with an informal platform to report on what is going on in the community.
The Title IX staff is looking into possibly incorporating prizes or stipends to encourage participation in the survey.
Furthermore, the Title IX office will also be offering Escalation Training classes. These events will be held once a month and will consist of screenings of videos showing different scenarios students may find themselves in. A discussion will follow the screening, in hopes to initiate a conversation on the problem of sexual assault.
“I would like to focus more on prevention,” said Freer. “Reacting to [sexual assault] is not addressing the problem, it’s reacting.”