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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Cracking down on campus sexual assault

Forcible Sex Crimes 2011-2013

A lot of colleges and universities have recently made headlines of the nightly news for forcible sexual crime cases.

At the University of Massachusetts Boston, there have been two cases of sexual assaults on campus, in 2012 and in 2013 respectively. According to UMass Boston Department of Public Safety, this is the lowest case of sex crime related activities in any other research schools in the metro-Boston area.

Detective Sergeant Clara Molina, one of the two detectives who investigate on sexual assault and rape cases on campus, said she is impressed by the mature behavior of UMass Boston students. She noted that, when it came to cases involving sexual assault, she has seen “not even one a year.”

Molina attributed these low statistics of sexual assaults to not having dorms on campus. She explained that at UMass Boston it helped that there are programs that help students to know about the risks for being victims.

According to its annual compilation of nine campus forces’ reports on sexual assault, Harvard University’s Annual Security Report suggests that Harvard  has the highest record of forcible-sexual crimes, which includes rape, sexual assault, incest, and forcible fondling.

Police jurisdictions in part make getting exact figures on the number of sexual assault involving UMass students hard. Molina explained that sexual assaults that happen outside of the UMass Boston campus are typically handled by other police forces, unless the victim comes forward to talk to campus detectives.

As of 1990, any type of crime that is handled by campus or university police forces needs to be reported and released to the public because of the  Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Crime Statistics Act. The Clery Act, which was formerly called the Campus Security Act, requires that colleges and universities report all crimes that occur on university property or near it. Since this act was put in place by the U.S. Department of Education, it has been revised and expanded over time and has put more requirements on schools to report crime.

“Schools that are found in violation of the Clery Act can be suspended from financial aid, and would have to pay a fine of $35,000 per violation,” explained Molina. Penalties for schools are not an empty threat. 

Starting in March 2015, the violence against Women Act will go into effect and will expand the definitions that are currently on the books. The new act will be broadened to include, “domestic violence, stalking, sexual assault, and dating violence,” said Molina. Because of laws becoming more specific, school police forces have had to go to special training to become familiar with the changes.

Molina closed by saying that she would strongly recommend any victim to seek medical attention, because the assault may result in an unwanted pregnancy or a sexually transmitted infection. She emphasized the importance of this physical evidence in helping to further the case if the victim wants to press charges.