In 2014, Harvard received more reports of on-campus rape than any other university in Massachusetts, according to data from the U.S. Department of Education.
Using numbers collected through the Clery Act, a law that requires universities that receive federal funding to report data about crime on their campuses to the government, the Department of Education created a searchable database with details about campus crime, including sexual offenses. Harvard topped the list for Massachusetts universities with 33 reported rapes that occurred on its campus in Cambridge in 2014. It exceeded colleges with larger student populations, such as the University of Massachusetts Amherst—which had 10 reports of rape that occurred on its main campus—and peer universities, such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which had 14 reports.
Brown University and the University of Connecticut led the country in reported rapes on their main campuses, with 43 reports each in 2014. Dartmouth had 42 reported rapes on its main campus.
2014 was the first year in which data was collected nationwide for reports of rape; previously, the Clery Act only mandated that colleges tally reports of “non forcible” and “forcible” sex offenses, umbrella terms covering a variety of acts. Harvard’s Clery Act data includes campus crimes reported to local police departments, the Harvard University Police Department, and university officials who have “significant responsibility for student and campus activities.”
Some University officials do not consider a high level of reported rapes as a wholly negative statistic. Many Title IX officials at Harvard, including University Title IX Officer Mia Karvonides, consider increased levels of reporting an important step towards preventing and combatting sexual assault on campus. Instead of indicating of higher levels of rape, more reports may suggest that more people on campus are coming forward.
“We are pleased that the number of reported sexual assaults and other forms of sexual harassment, which are traditionally underreported, also has increased,” University spokesperson Tania M. deLuzuriaga wrote in an email.
Harvard, like many universities, struggles to encourage students to report sexual assault and harassment. A University-wide survey on sexaul assault showed that many students did not tell Harvard officials when they had experienced a form of sexual assault. Eighty percent of female College students who reported in the survey of having experienced nonconsensual penetration by incapacitation, and 69 percent of those who experienced penetration by force, did not file a formal report, according to a report on the survey by former provost Steven E. Hyman.
Collecting data is not the only way the federal government probes into sexual assault on college campuses, including Harvard. The Office for Civil Rights continues to investigate the College’s compliance with anti-sex discrimination law Title IX, and hundreds of other colleges are also under investigation.
—Staff writer Andrew M. Duehren can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @aduehren.
—Staff writer Daphne C. Thompson can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @daphnectho.
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