TYLER - The latest annual campus safety report for The University of Texas at Tyler reveals several sexual assaults, and a decrease in burglaries and alcohol-related arrests.
The report, which came out Oct. 2, covers crime on campus during the 2016 calendar year.
UT Tyler Police Chief Mike Medders said although no sexual assaults were reported directly to police that year, the department received the statistics through the Title IX office and other campus officials.
The college is not required to report these instances on its annual report, but has chosen to do so voluntarily for the past several years.
The police department offers assistance to Title IX officials when the office requests it.
Medders has said these reports are often from victims who do not want to come forward or formally file charges.
Alcohol-related arrests were down, but Medders said the difference could be attributed to a single party.
“Generally, the reason alcohol violations may vary significantly from year to year is the absence, or prevalence of a large party or two during the year,” Medders said. “For example, if we respond to a gathering where there are 20 minors present, and they are all found to be in violation, that counts as 20 violations. In other words, we count by the violator, not the incident.”
For the second year in a row, burglaries continued to trend downward with only five reported compared to eight in 2015 and 15 in 2014.
Medders attributed this decline to cooperation of students and Resident Assistants. Medders said students are taking more personal responsibility for ensuring their rooms are locked and their personal items are secure and the RAs are more diligent about reporting suspicious persons and activity.
Incidents of stalking, dating violence and domestic violence also were down.
One case of stalking was determined to be unfounded.
ABOUT THE CLERY ACT
The Clery Act, passed in 1990, was designed to protect students and families by requiring all colleges and universities share information about crime, inform the public of efforts to improve safety and of crime in or around the campus.
The information is collected in daily reports and then compiled in an annual security report made available every October.
The act also mandates that institutions provide survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking with options such as changes to academic, transportation, or living, or working situations and assistance in notifying local law enforcement, if the student or employee chooses to do so, according to the Clery Center for Security on Campus.
Campuses found in violation of the act can face fines of up to $35,000 per instance.
Contents of the report typically can be found on a school's website, but the reporting tool is not perfect and the information it provides is not always clear cut.
In some cases, incidents don't make the Clery report because they don't qualify as a Part One crime, defined by the FBI as violent or property offenses, such as burglary or theft. In other instances, the information is left off either by human error or because the case was deemed “unfounded” by college officials.
Not all crimes qualify. For example, simple assault does not meet the threshold, but aggravated assault does, meaning a fist fight normally would not make the report unless a weapon was used, elevating the assault to aggravated.
And there are some exceptions in Clery reporting. For example, there is no official charge for fondling in the state of Texas, so those crimes typically are classified as a misdemeanor assault. However, the Clery Act now requires that fondling cases be accounted for on the annual report.
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