Reports of sexual assault, dating violence rise at ASU's Tempe campus

In its 2015 Annual Security Report, ASU reported an increase in the number of sexual assault crimes being reported to the University police department.

In 2014, the report found that there were 14 cases of on-campus rape and 15 of on-campus and on-campus residential fondling on ASU's Tempe campus, up from just 15 total cases in 2013.

ASU spokesman Mark Johnson said the split in reported crimes came from the 2013 Campus SaVE Act, which created four categories for sex crimes instead of two. This split does not affect how the crimes are reported or investigated.

A statement from the University said its efforts to prevent sexual assault crimes have strengthened and expanded this year with the implementation of consent education programs and the addition of two Special Victims detectives who specifically focus on sex crime cases.


Read More: ASU Police Department adds Special Victims Unit

"This year’s data in this category indicates that ASU has made progress in creating an environment where people feel empowered to seek help but also that there is ample reason to press ahead with our already aggressive education and awareness efforts," the statement read.

Through the federal Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Police and Campus Crime Statistics Act, the University is required to disclose campus safety information and imposes requirements for handling cases of sexual violence and emergency situations.

The University said in a statement it has taken vigorous action to move forward with criminal cases when such offenses are reported.

"Among the cases, which ranged in severity, 12 received discipline ranging from expulsion to working with a judicial educator," the statement read. "Nine cases were not adjudicated by the University because the perpetrator could not be identified or was not a student. In one case, the accused individual was found not responsible."

Twenty-two states in the nation currently have laws requiring sexual education in public schools. Arizona is not one of them.

Emily Lauber, president of the on-campus sexual education organization VOX: Voices for Planned Parenthood, said one of the biggest aspects to preventing sexual violence is providing students with sexual education.

"We're putting over 60,000 people on (ASU Tempe) campus that have varying levels of sex education," she said. "That, to me, is dangerous. That's setting itself up for sexual violence. If people don't have education, how are they understanding consent? How are they understanding healthy relationships? How are they protecting themselves health-wise?"

In a statement, the University said it provides several programs to help educate students on the aspects of sexual violence, such as the “Consent and Respect” online course, which launched in February.

Kat Hofland, Undergraduate Student Government Downtown Vice President of Services and former president of Students for Consent, said the increased numbers of sex offense crimes does not mean crimes have gone up. Rather, she said it means students have been reporting those crimes more often.

"It's actually a good sign that these numbers are increasing because students are feeling more comfortable," she said. "ASU is putting more messages out about sexual violence and about their support for students and the students are feeling more comfortable and are more able to report to administration."

Hofland said educating the population of students at the University on recognizing and preventing sexual assault crimes can help contribute to the greater community.

"We have the opportunity to provide that education and spread it out throughout a massive amount of people which will bring this back to a larger community,"  she said. "It's important that we do that so we can contribute even more to our society."

Students can report sexual assault crimes with the ASU Police Department, the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities if the offender is another student or the Office of Equity and Inclusion if the offender is a staff or faculty member. Students can also report anonymously by calling the ASU Hotline at 877-786-3385.

Additional resources are available here.

Related Links:

SU Police Department adds Special Victims Unit

Sexual assault: Stopping a Tempe trend


Reach the reporter at Jlsuerth@asu.edu or follow @SuerthJessica on Twitter.

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