Reports of Sexual Assault Continue to Increase

The Amherst College Police Department (ACPD) received sustained increase in reports of physical sex offenses and crimes of violence against women, according to the 2018 Clery Report released on Sept. 27. The annual report documents certain campus security policies and statistics on reported crimes at the college over the past three calendar years.

The report was largely compiled from data collected by the Office of Student Affairs, Amherst Health Services, the Counseling Center and ACPD. The Title IX office is responsible for gathering data on reported instances of sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, dating or domestic violence and stalking, which are forwarded to ACPD. The report’s release is mandated by federal law; college community members received the report in their email and mailboxes.

According to the report, instances of reported rape increased from 12 to 15 from 2017 to 2018, continuing an increase from five reported incidents in 2016. Reported incidents of fondling and stalking also increased.

Instances of fondling reached 15 in 2018; three were reported in 2016 and 12 in 2017. Instances of stalking reached 10 in 2018; there were zero reports in 2016 and four in 2017. Reports of domestic violence stayed relatively stagnant, decreasing from six in 2017 to five in 2018.

Chief of Police John Carter pointed to the atmosphere of awareness created on campus by Title IX Coordinator Laurie Frankl as one of the reasons crimes relating to sexual respect increased in previous years.

“An increase in reported statistics is not always an indication of an increase in actual incidents — it may just mean a heightened awareness and willingness to report,” Carter wrote in an email interview. “The Title IX Coordinator has become a trusted resource to many students and that trust has become a hallmark of the office. People feel comfortable reporting to Title IX.”

The Student contacted Frankl and Amanda Vann, director of health education and deputy Title IX coordinator for comment, but neither were available to comment by press time.

Carter also noted the training that ACPD receives on matters of sexual misconduct. “Just last week, the entire police department underwent training on trauma influence investigations. This is a repeat of training we have done in the past,” Carter wrote. “The training incorporated presentations from the Title IX Office, the Counseling Center, the District Attorney’s Sexual Assault Unit and the Amherst Police Captain that oversees the Detective Unit.”

Burglaries remained stagnant, staying at 12 reported instances between this year and last. The college saw two reported incidents of both aggravated assault and arson in 2018; there were none in the two years prior.

Alcohol violations also dropped significantly to 17 reports, down from 50 in 2016 and 42 in 2017. Drug violations, however, increased to seven reports from two reports last year.

“The work of the police department is more centered on the response to dangerous drinking and the associated risks, such as overconsumption leading to medical emergencies,” wrote Carter. “This doesn’t mean that underaged drinking is permissible, but it does mean that ACPD’s priorities are aligned with our community’s values.”