Sexual assaults on UVU Clery Report raise cultural questions

Chandler Christensen | Senior Staff Writer
Jared Stirland | News Editor

Carrie Laudie | Editor-in-Chief

The sexual assault statistics on UVU’s Clery Report, an annual crime report required
of all colleges and universities that receive federal funding, are mysteriously low

compared to other universities and colleges in the state.

The Jeanne Clery Act is a consumer protection law that was passed in 1990 with the
purpose of informing the public and potential students about crime on college and

university campuses.

“The problem with that is that it’s arguably a very small picture of crime because
most crime doesn’t get reported,” said Matt Duffin, a professor of criminal justice at


From 2012-2014, UVU reported three incidences of sexual assault, which was the
second lowest after Dixie State University. All other public universities and colleges

in the state reported at least 10 sexual assaults during those same years.

The Department of Injury Prevention reported that 1 in 5 women will be a victim of
sexual assault, and 19 percent of undergraduate women will experience an

attempted or completed sexual assault.

“What researchers have learned is that you can get a bigger picture of the dark
figure of crime by not waiting for people to report but actually going out and doing

victim surveys,” said Duffin.

There is a disconcerting paradigm between the national statistics, the state
statistics, and UVU statistics that brings into question the validity of UVU’s Clery

Report numbers.

“That’s the problem with the Clery Report that you’re getting from the police. That’s
based on students coming to the UVU police and reporting to them, so we get a very,
very small picture of crime from people who report crimes to the police,” said


Duffin conducted a study in November of 2015 that investigated sexual assaults at

UVU, using UVU students as the respondents.

“One thing is, that’s a hundred percent sure, we now have evidence that there are
sexual assaults occurring to UVU students while they are students and before we
had no report of it. We had no report to UVU Police of basically any rape. These are
reports of rape. Not just touching or feeling, this is actual rape – penis in the vagina,”

said Duffin.

Out of the 157 respondents, eight individuals reported having been raped
while students at UVU, and two of those individuals disclosed that the rape took place on

UVU campus – none of those eight incidences made it to the Clery Report.

“Our department in particular is concerned with how victims get treated. That’s why
we are doing these kinds of studies. We want to work to improve what’s happening

at UVU, give people knowledge about what really is going on,” said Duffin.

There is a cultural problem surrounding the reporting of sexual assault.

“This issue is underreported by victims nationwide and Utah is no different — one of
the goals of UVU’s collective effort is to get people to step forward and report so
they can receive the help, support, and resources they need,” said Melinda Colton,

director of public relations at UVU.

According to the Department of Justice, only 12 percent of college women who

are raped report the assault to authorities.

“It’s always been said that sexual assault is the most underreported crime that we
have, for a variety of reasons. When they [victims] are reluctant to report, obviously

there’s a lot of reasons for that,” said Chief of Police at UVU John Brewer

Only four of the eight individuals in Duffin’s study reported the assault to
authorities, and the other four individuals cited that they “felt embarrassment or

shame” as the reason for not going to authorities.

“You have to be able to educate people and have them have an awareness of
what sexual assault is so they recognize and are able to report sexual assaults. The more
you create that opportunity, that education, that training, the more likely peopleare

going to come forward with that,” said Alexis Palmer, dean of students at UVU.

Earlier this month, all students, faculty, and UVU employees received an email with
a link to a Title IX training, which is a federal legal requirement mandated as part of
the ‘It’s On Us’ campaign to educate individuals about sexual assault and violence.
“UVU is fully committed to preventing sexual misconduct and accurately reporting Clery

crime,”said Mellissa Frost, Title IX coordinator at UVU.

Title IX is a federal law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex in every
federally funded education program or activity, which requires institutions to
quickly address sexual misconduct while honoring requests for anonymity when


“One of my plans is to see if I can get with Melissa Frost, get all these people together
who want to learn and want to know about sexual assault at UVU and see if we can
set up kind of an annual study where we can start measuring from the victim’s
 perspective. Because obviously from the Clery Act perspective, we’re not getting

anything. We don’t know what’s going on,” said Duffin.

This type of study could help in changing the societal stigma surrounding sexual
assault by improving resources for victims, and by educating, students,
administrators, and faculty in order to facilitate a more open dialogue.

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