In the wake of the Boston College’s Clery Act Crime statistics being released on Sept. 28, the administration has reiterated its support for students reporting any concerning incident to the BC Police Department, student affairs administrators, or the Dean of Students’ office for students reporting any concerning incident to the BC Police Department, student affairs administrators, or the Dean of Students’ office.
“Boston College strongly urges students to report any incidents of sexual assault,” University Spokesman Jack Dunn said. “We have been aggressive in our efforts to encourage reporting in an attempt to bring an end to sexual violence on campus.”
The numbers reported in the statistics reflect reports of alleged incidents of sexual violence, but it’s unclear to administrators both at BC and nationwide whether the increases are a result of more reporting as the culture surrounding seeking help has become more open or if another instigating factor is at work.
“When you look at the numbers, it’s impossible to tell if the increase is the result of larger numbers of this happening, or a greater percentage of people reporting,” said Melinda Stoops, associate vice president for student affairs and BC’s Title IX coordinator. “They are just showing the reports we’ve received. We don’t know anything about what hasn’t been reported.”
A survey carried out by the United States Department of Justice in 2016 found one in five women were sexually assaulted while in college. That level of prevalence has caused concern that, around the country, sexual assault incidents are being vastly underreported to authorities by students on college campuses.
“I think you can even look at the culture in our country, where sometimes it is very hard for victims to come forward for fear of criticism, fear of retaliation, or [they] may not feel up to the pressure that comes with reporting,” Stoops said.
“From our position, what we try to do is to create a culture here on campus where people feel safe in reporting and try to encourage as many reports of incidents as possible.”
Featured Image by Taylor Perison / Heights Staff