The University of California system has formed an internal task force to investigate whether its nine campuses are under reporting the number of on-campus rapes and sexual assaults.
The move comes after a five-month investigation and a series of articles by the Sacramento Bee that allege campus officials have ignored a federal law requiring them to gather rape and sexual assault statistics from a wide variety of campus authorities.
The Clery Act was named after Jeanne Clery, a former student at Pennsylvania’s Lehigh University who was raped and strangled in her dormitory room by a fellow student in 1986.
It requires universities to publish an annual report for several crime categories along with statements of security policies or risk losing federal funding.
Each student, prospective student and employee must receive the report.
“The Clery Act has a history of confusion nationwide,” Chuck McFadden, spokesman for the UC President’s office, told the Daily Planet. “There is confusion with compliance, confusion with reporting stats, and confusion as to who does the reporting.
“Colleges around the country have been complaining of vagueness,” he said.
Nonetheless, McFadden said he believes the UC system is complying with the act.
“The task force is being appointed to see if we’re doing as well as we think we are doing,” he said.
McFadden said UC Davis has issued a nine-page, point-by-point response to the articles published last week by the Bee.
UC Berkeley Police Capt. Bill Cooper said he believes campus police go beyond the requirements of the Clery Act.
“We have a significant publication that includes our data that fulfills our obligation,” he said.
Cooper said the same information is also available on the UC Police website.
The publication, called “Safety Counts,” shows two different columns: offenses reported to the University and Berkeley Police, and unverified offenses reported to other campus officials.
The publication released by the UC Berkeley police instructs victims of sexual assault to use other reporting methods besides the UC Police if necessary.
These can include the University Health Center, social services and the Gender and Equality Resource Center.
According to crime reports from 1998, there were 12 reported forcible sex offenses to UC Berkeley or city police.
Ten were reported but unverified, or were reported to other university officials.
In 1999, the number dropped to six forcible sex offenses reported to the police departments, while nine were reported to other university officials.
According to the publication, individual incidents may be reported multiple times within the same calendar year.