Earlier this month, Safety and Security released its annual summary report for the 2012-13 year, reflecting recent thefts from academic and residential buildings and the underreporting of sexual offenses, an issue at colleges and universities across the country.
Under a federal law called the Campus Safety Act, or the Jeanne Clery Act, colleges and universities that participate in federal financial aid and work-study programs or that receive Title IX funding are required to disclose crimes committed on and around their campuses.
In addition to maintaining a public crime log, colleges are also required to provide an annual summary report that details three years of crime statistics, up-to-date security policies and procedures, and “information on the basic rights guaranteed victims of sexual assault,” according to the Clery Center, a nonprofit dedicated to accountability in campus crime reporting.
The 2013 Annual Security & Fire Safety report disclosed the following crimes on Haverford’s campus: 4 forcible sex offenses, 7 burglaries, 60 thefts, up from 48 the previous year, and 36 liquor law arrests.
According to the report, the increase in liquor law arrests – up from 26 in 2010 and 30 in 2011 – is due to a policy change by Haverford Township police, who have begun issuing citations for alcohol-related hospitalizations.
Director of Campus Safety Tom King said citations to individuals who provide alcohol to minors are “not common, but advertised as coming.”
“What I’m telling students and customs [groups] is, don’t be the test case,” said King. “I’ve heard there is going to be an adjusted focus on ‘how did you get it [the alcohol].'”
Bryn Mawr’s annual report disclosed 5 forcible sexual offenses, 23 thefts, 2 burglaries, 3 liquor law arrests, 21 liquor violations, and 5 drug violations. 2 of those incidents of sexual assault occurred in previous years but were reported in 2012.
Recent thefts and burglaries in academic buildings, the dining center and residential halls are not a new phenomenon, according to director of Campus Safety Tom King.
For years, a common thieves’ strategy has been to hit up several college campuses along the Main Line one after another. King says Haverford and other area schools communicate with each other and local law enforcement when a crime happens with the purpose of preventing more thefts and catching the perpetrators before they hit their next campus.
Most recently, Haverford police arrested an Upper Darby man for stealing laptops, an iPhone, cash and credit cards stolen from two separate dorm rooms at Leeds Hall in late September. The man was arrested after the student whose belongings were stolen saw the items listed for sale on Craigslist.
According to King, the man was known to local police and may have been working with other individuals targeting campuses in the area.
The College is currently outfitting cut-proof security screens on first-floor buildings of residential halls, an incremental project that will be completed as funding is available, said King.
But in addition to reaching and climbing through windows, many thieves are given access to buildings by students themselves.
“Here’s the beauty and tragedy of Haverford life – our students are so nice. They hold the door for everybody,” said King. “God, I do it too.”
King says his department is constantly trying to be proactive prevent thefts by changing and increasing patrols, posting notices and working with faculty in academic buildings. After several laptop thefts from the KINSC last year, students have been discouraged from leaving their items unattended in hallways and safety officers now patrol through the building more regularly.
Cameras on campus will also be upgraded with a new recording software called victor, which King says is an “inexpensive, unobtrusive” way to increase safety on campus.
The software was approved over the summer and is not a reaction to recent thefts, he said.
The software allows for triggered and timed recording based on location and circumstance. For example, King says, Campus Safety could set a camera to only film activity if suspicious or unusual movements are detected, such as movement under a windowsill after dark.
As to concerns about privacy, King says cameras, such as those monitoring the Haverford College Apartments, are “electronically blocked” so that they cannot look or film into windows.
“I love that we have an open campus, but we want it to be safe,” said King.
Reporting of Rape and Sexual Assault
Campus policies on rape and sexual assault have been under increased scrutiny in recent years, as students at colleges and universities across the country have filed federal complaints against their colleges for mishandling and mistreating of victims of sexual crimes.
Under Title IX and the Clery Act, students are guaranteed “a right to education free from sexual violence and harassment,” according to Know Your IX, a campaign dedicated to educating students about their rights under Title IX.
According to the College’s annual report, four cases of sexual assault were reported in 2012-2013, startlingly low numbers considering national statistics on sexual violence.
A national survey found that nearly 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men reported experiencing rape in their lifetime. In a study of undergraduate women, “19 percent experienced attempted or completed sexual assault since entering college,” according to a sexual violence factsheet by the the Centers for Disease Control.
54 percent of sexual assaults are not reported, making sexual violence one of the nation’s most underreported crimes, according to the Department of Justice.
The College’s safety report acknowledges three common factors that contribute to underreporting: “1. Not clear of the legal definition for sexual assault and rape 2. Unaware of the resources on and off campus 3. Unaware of victim’s basic rights.”
Campus safety data taken from the Department of Education shows similar rates of reporting among other private liberal arts colleges.
Haverford overhauled its own sexual assault policy in 2010, after a student filed a claim with the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights.
“Nobody is under any delusions – if somebody reports something to us, no matter how vague, we count it to the greatest extent of the definition [of sexual assault],” said King. “Even with that rubric, the highest [number of cases] we have ever had was eight – it’s a problem, a societal problem.”