Though the University of Oregon has been in the spotlight after three college basketball players were accused of sexual assault but not charged, it’s the state’s private colleges that are reporting a higher rate of sex offenses.
A new report from the U.S. Department of Education finds that public and private universities are seeing an increase of sexual assault reports nationwide. Reed College ranks third nationally in the number of assaults per 1,000 students, the Washington Post reports.
Reed College had 35 offenses during the Education Department study period of 2010-2012, more than any other higher education institution in Oregon. Willamette University also had a high rate of 4.44 offenses per 1,000 students in 2012, and reported 28 total offenses from 2010 to 2012.
Reed College faced criticism in 2011 when students complained about the process for investigating assaults.
Reed College spokesman Kevin Myers says that school’s administration and students have made strides in the past few years to comply with Title IX and also create a safe environment: The college created a new position to oversee reports of sexual assault and response, started advocate groups and a support system for victims and updated policies.
“No one is happy with the numbers, but people are happy that victims are coming forward,” Myers says. “The goal is to reduce and prevent sexual assault from happening on the campus, but another goal is to respond (to a report) in the most effective way.”
I asked about numbers sex offenses in 2013, but Myers says they won’t be available until after the summer.
UO came in with the second highest number of total offenses for Oregon schools: 32. But with a student body of 28,287, the school’s rate of reported offenses was 0.69 for every 1,000 students.
No assaults were reported at Marylhurst, George Fox and Corban universities.
Note that the number of reports include alleged incidents and may not have gone on to criminal trial.
Penn State University had the nation’s highest total number of reports on campus (84), followed by Harvard University (83) and the University of Michigan at Ann Harbor (64). Across the country, there were more than 3,900 reports of forcible sex offenses on college campuses in 2012 — about a 50 percent increase since 2010.
The Washington Post reports that the increased number of reports over the years nationwide may show that more students and faculty are reporting sexual misconduct.
The federal government has made efforts to encourage sexual assault reporting at America’s colleges. A White House task force was created in May to improve how schools handle sexual assault on college campus, where one in five women are assaulted and assaults are notoriously under-reported. The report, called “Not Alone,” included new guidelines for handling the cases and set up a national reporting system.
Federal legislation is in the works and more than 50 universities and colleges are being investigated for possible mishandling of sexual assault reporting.