HSU Records Highest Reported Rape In Over A Decade During COVID Lockdown, Report Says | Lost Coast Outpost
In a year where classroom learning has been suspended and the number of students living on campus has been cut by more than half due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Humboldt State University recorded its highest number of reported rapes since 2006, according to its annual crime. statistics published yesterday.
The Clery Act report – a federally commissioned release of college crime statistics – shows that six campus rapes and five incidents of “fondling” were reported to HSU in 2020.
HSU Police Chief Anthony Morgan, who replaced Chief Donn Peterson in February, discussed the increase in sexual assaults reported last year with the Outpost.
“I really focused on the statistics [for crimes that have occurred] since I’ve been here, ”Morgan said. “I understand these numbers are cause for concern and I will dig deeper into each report to deter these types of incidents from moving forward.”
Although the university has recorded the highest number of reported rapes in almost 15 years, experts such as Maxwell Schnurer, chairman of the HSU’s Sexual Assault Prevention Committee, say an increase in reporting may also reflect a favorable campus environment.
“If harm occurs, the university tries to get support for these people,” Schnurer said. “It’s a good thing people know they can get help on campus. “
And while the university’s Sexual Assault Prevention Committee prioritizes prevention, as the name suggests, it also focuses on creating a culture where victims of sexual assault – a crime historically under-reported – feel comfortable coming forward.
“Our main goal is prevention,” he said. “We use Check It cookie intervention training and cultural norms to [encourage students to] support each other and intervene before harm happens. The secondary thing is: react in case of harm and clear avenues for getting help.
While the university uses data from the Clery Report in its planning to prevent sexual assault, the numbers themselves are not an exact tool for measuring the number of students sexually assaulted each year. For example: if a student reports a rape that occurred off university property, or the location is unknown, the incident will not be reflected in the Clery annual report.
A single incident of sexual assault can also be unintentionally depicted in a Clery report multiple times. If a student were to report a sexual assault to multiple university employees, that single incident could be reflected in the report by more than one number.
HSU Program Analyst for Title IX and Prevention of Discrimination, Harassment and Retaliation Nicki Viso told the Outpost that Clery’s data reflects school policy more than an exact calculation of students sexually assaulted each year.
“[The report] filters out some things, ”Viso said. “It’s like a campus security feature. This gives a full picture of our policies, but what is happening in these columns is very specific. “
While it’s not clear whether the pandemic had an effect on the number of rapes reported on campus last year, Schnurer said the HSU Sexual Assault Prevention Committee will hold its monthly meeting this Friday, where key university decision makers will discuss the Clery report and ways to improve campus security.
Schnurer encourages all victims of prejudice within the campus community to contact the Campus Advocacy Team hotline at (707) 445-2881.