Each year on Oct. 1, colleges and universities around the nation are required to compile a public annual security report including statistics of campus crime for the previous three calendar years. In addition, campuses must include details about efforts taken to improve campus safety.
This report became mandatory for all colleges and universities to release in 1990, when the Clery Act was passed in response to the rape and murder of Jeanne Clery at Lehigh Univeristy in 1986. Following her death, Clery’s parents campaigned for universities to be held accountable for not releasing information regarding campus safety.
The Goshen College 2019 report covers everything in regards to safety and security, including resources to crime prevention, racial misconduct policy, criminal offense data since 2016 and more.
Chad Coleman, director of campus safety and housing operations, has been in charge of gathering this data and assembling the report since 2016.
Although Coleman says the plethora of data is daunting, he wants students and everybody who reads the report to take it at face value.
“When you see a number or a statistic, that is a report." Coleman said. "It is not necessarily saying it happened or didn’t happen.”
Data is pulled from a multitude of sources, including the Goshen Police Department, the Title IX office and isolated reports to the college. In order to note the crime in the annual report, the college must know what kind of crime it is, where it happened, when it was reported and when it occurred.
Since GC does not have its own internal police force, Coleman says there’s no way for the college to confirm in a report whether or not the crime took place. He also added that crimes that take place most often, like bike theft or vandalism, are not required to be reported due to the lack of severity of the crime.
The statistics show that the overall amount of reports in 2018 saw a slight increase from past years in categories like aggravated assault, burglary and forcible sex offenses (ranging from nonconsensual touch all the way to rape).
Although reports have increased, Coleman recognizes that this doesn’t necessarily mean an increase in the frequency of the crime. He especially highlighted the efforts by the college to make reporting sex-based crimes easier while adhering to the needs of the reporter.
“People are being more vigilant about reporting,” Coleman said. “We’ve made that process simpler for students to report.”
According to Beth Martin Birky, Title IX coordinator, this increase in reports could be due to one of the biggest changes in regards to reporting sexual harassment, discrimination and violence. In recent years, GC and the Title IX office has increased access points and a variety of ways to contact and report sexual and gender-related offenses.
Students who report offenses to Title IX deputy coordinator Kendra Yoder are given options, from receiving accommodations and resources to pursuing an informal resolution or formal investigation. The goal is to help individuals choose what is best for their safety and well-being.
Through the online report form, individuals may report anonymously, which lets the college know about an incident. Students may also report directly to any GC employee who report to Yoder.
“We have increased employee training in the last three years, helping faculty and employees serve as bridges between students and support,” Birky said.
Although reported crimes saw an uptick in 2018, Birky mentions the statistics do not always tell the whole story.
“An increase in reports does not necessarily indicate an increase in offenses,” Birky said. “It does reflect an increased access to resources and help.”
The full report can be found at goshen.edu/safety/crime-report/.