91 Percent of Colleges Reported Zero Incidents of Rape in 2014November 23, 2015
Newly reported data required by the Clery Act indicate that the annual statistics collected by colleges and universities still do not tell the full story of sexual violence on campus. Many are familiar with the disturbing statistic that one in five women is sexually assaulted during college, but less well known is that more than one in five college women experiences physical abuse, sexual abuse, or threats of physical violence at the hands of an intimate partner.
AAUW’s analysis of the 2014 data revealed the following.
- Ninety-one percent of college campuses disclosed zero reported incidences of rape in 2014. With about 11,000 campuses disclosing annual crime data, an overwhelming majority of schools certified that in 2014 they did not receive a single report of a rape.
- For the first time, we also have access to data regarding dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking incidents on campuses nationwide. But in these categories as well, only about 10 percent of college campuses disclosed a reported incident in 2014.
- Among the nearly 4,000 main or primary campuses of colleges and universities with enrollment of at least 250 students, 76 percent disclosed zero rape reports in 2014.
- The 2014 numbers show that campuses that reported one type of sexual violence often disclosed reports of other types. This suggests that some schools have built the necessary systems to welcome reports, support survivors, and disclose accurate statistics — and others have not.
The Clery Act’s New Data
The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (Clery Act), passed in 1990, requires colleges and universities that participate in federal financial aid programs to disclose campus crime statistics and security information, including training and prevention efforts. Every school must annually collect and report this information to the U.S. Department of Education.
In 2013, Congress reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), and it included amendments to the Clery Act to address sexual violence. In addition to already collected data on rape, schools are now required to report on domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking. The new information was first collected in 2014 and is available nationally for the first time in 2015.
Why Are the Clery Act Numbers Important?
When campus environments are hostile because of sexual harassment, assault, or violence, students cannot learn — and their civil rights to an education free of sex discrimination are at risk. Previous AAUW research revealed that two-thirds of college students experienced sexual harassment and nearly half of students in grades 7–12 faced it. Getting correct numbers in the annual Clery Act data collection matters because it helps policy makers understand one aspect of the scope of the problem, it helps college administrators allocate resources to improve prevention and response, and it is an important reflection that survivors — and their assaults — were counted.
What Do the 2014 Clery Numbers Tell Us?
Schools that report zero rapes have work to do and require additional scrutiny. When campuses report zero incidents of rape, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking, it simply does not square with research, campus climate surveys, and widespread experiences reported by students. Following several years of increased attention to campus sexual violence — such as the 2011 “Dear Colleague” letter from the U.S. Department of Education regarding Title IX and sexual violence, the 2013 reauthorization of VAWA, and the 2014 White House Task Force to Protect Students From Sexual Assault — schools have been put on notice and given the tools to improve their support systems, policies, and procedures to respond to sexual violence on campus. The 2014 Clery Act data reveal that far too many schools have not risen to the challenge — and perhaps not the letter of the law.
Access the 2014 Clery Data for Individual Schools
There are several ways to identify and analyze the 2014 data using the Department of Education’s Campus Safety and Security Data Analysis Cutting Tool.
To view an individual school’s Clery Act numbers, use the feature to “get data for one institution/campus.” To see aggregate national numbers, use the “get aggregated data for a group of campuses” function, or download the data in a spreadsheet using “download data for a group of campuses.”
This particular AAUW analysis draws from the 2014 data, though numbers are available for several years for all crimes except dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking. In addition to the Department of Education’s tool, every school’s individual annual security report should report this information, as well as details about the school’s sexual violence training and prevention programs.
- Because schools only disclose reported incidents in the annual Clery Act collection, the extraordinarily high number of zeros suggests students may not feel comfortable coming forward to report such crimes at some of these schools. This should be a serious cause for concern for any college or university and for campus communities as well. Schools must take an honest look at their processes: Do they facilitate accurate data collection, welcome reporting, provide resources and training to support survivors, and disclose statistics correctly? If not, reforms must be made.
- In addition to the new data reporting, schools also must develop policies, procedures, and campuswide training to ensure proper handling of sexual violence, and these actions must be outlined in their annual reports. Smart schools will also include students, faculty, staff, and community partners in their efforts. Neither advocates nor the U.S. Department of Education are expecting schools to do this alone. Informational resources for schools are available at notalone.gov and changingourcampus.org and can be extremely beneficial in addressing sexual violence on campus.
- Developing prevention programming that’s effective requires understanding the full scope of the problem — something that the new Clery Act data collection will help schools to do. Schools that do not collect and report this data dutifully and accurately are missing out on one of their best prevention tools.
- Schools should consider conducting climate and victimization surveys, which are critical tools for schools to better document both reported and unreported incidents of sexual violence, understand why survivors are not reporting, and assess administrative and cultural issues on campus that undermine reporting.
Find ideas for programming, get answers to frequently asked questions, learn about funding opportunities, and learn how to take action on campus.
Even officials who are responsible for following Title IX, often called Title IX coordinators, don’t always understand the full scope of the law and how it can be a valuable tool to make campuses safer for all students.
“The data reported by the nation’s colleges simply defy reality and commonsense,” said Lisa M. Maatz, vice president of government relations at AAUW.