Dec 9, 2013
03:03 PMConnecticut Today
Yale, UConn and Connecticut College Have Most Sexual Assaults in State, Reports Show (With Interactive Maps)
From left, Kylie Angell, Rosemary Richi, Carolyn Luby, attorney Gloria Allred and Nina Pirotti, students who filed a federal lawsuit against UConn; Christine Stuart photo published online by the New Haven Register.
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Yale University, the University of Connecticut and Connecticut College top the list of schools with the most reported forcible sexual assaults in Connecticut in 2012, according to safety reports released this fall.
In total, 81 forcible sexual assaults were reported on college campuses with at least 1,000 students in Connecticut in 2012, up from 71 the year before.
But school officials say more reports do not necessarily mean more assaults. Better education about what constitutes an assault as well as a safer environment for victims has made it easier for victims to come forward and report their attacks, officials said.
All colleges and universities across the country are required to produce an annual safety report by Oct. 1 under the federal Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, also known as the Campus Security Act or just the “Clery Act.”
The most recent reports show that 16 forcible sexual assaults were reported at Yale University in 2012, 13 such assaults at UConn and 12 at Connecticut College the same year. In 2011, Yale reported 18 forcible sexual assaults, UConn reported eight and Connecticut College reported four.
UConn, which serves almost 26,000 students, has been publicly criticized in the past year after four victims of assault – students at the school – filed a federal lawsuit Nov. 1 claiming the school did not do enough to help them after their attacks.
The state’s Higher Education Committee in November heard testimony from several victims about how many colleges across the state struggle with how to respond to sexual assaults, not just UConn.
After the lawsuit was filed, UConn officials issued a statement saying: "The University does all in its power to appropriately investigate and handle such claims in a manner that is fully compliant with the law and grounded in both sensitivity and fairness."
The university provides resources to its students online, including where to get support and how to report an assault.
Yale, which serves about 12,000 students, has also been publicly criticized for its handling of sexual assaults. In 2011, a federal investigation was launched by the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights after it received complaints the university had a “sexually hostile environment.”
Other reports claim the Ivy League university has allowed alleged attackers to continue pursuing their diplomas. In response, the university has said publicly it does not tolerate sexual misconduct.
Yale also offers an online sexual assault response and education center for its students called “SHARE.”
Officials at Connecticut College, which serves about 2,000 students, say the jump from four to 12 reported sexual assaults on the small campus between 2011 and 2012 does not mean more sexual assaults are happening, but rather that students are more comfortable coming forward.
"Experts agree that sexual assaults are notoriously underreported," Connecticut College spokeswoman Deborah MacDonnell said. "A higher number of reports doesn't necessarily mean there was a higher number of incidents. It's more likely that a higher number of reports actually indicates that students know where to find resources and are comfortable accessing those resources. We encourage students to report so that we can get them the support they need."
Director of Sexual Violence Prevention and Advocacy Darcie Folsom told The College Voice, Connecticut College’s independent student newspaper, that through increased education, students are more aware of the type of incidents they should be reporting and how to report them.
School officials also told the student newspaper that because of the small size of the campus, students have closer relationships with the staff and feel more comfortable reporting things like sexual assaults.
One of the incidents involves a former cafeteria worker accused of “groping” a student and a campus visitor in 2012. A student testified in the case that within 24 hours of the attack, she had spoken to all the right people, had received crisis counseling and help from campus officials to contact the New London police, according to an article in The Day.
Sexual assaults aren’t the only crimes included in the annual safety report. Burglaries are prevalent as well, with 269 of them reported across Connecticut campuses in 2012.
Forty-nine burglaries were reported at Wesleyan University in Middletown that year, 38 of them at UConn and Yale, 17 at Central Connecticut State University an Fairfield University and 16 at Southern Connecticut State University.
The majority of burglaries at Wesleyan were in residential facilities. Mike Whaley, vice president for student affairs at Wesleyan, told The Middletown Press most thefts on campus are crimes of opportunity as students leave laptops or cell phones unattended, and he encourages all students to be more vigilant and “pay attention.”
In 2011, Connecticut colleges reported 230 burglaries.