The number of rapes reported on campus at Ohio University this academic year has decreased, but that does not necessarily mean fewer people are being raped.
As of now, five rapes have been reported to the Ohio University Police Department this Spring Semester. By this time in Spring Semester 2017, nine rapes had been reported.
During the 2014-15 academic year, nine rapes were reported to OUPD. Fourteen rapes were reported during the 2015-16 academic year and 16 during the 2016-17 academic year. Three rapes were reported in Fall Semester 2017.
OUPD Lt. Tim Ryan said it’s hard to tell the exact reason why the number of reported rapes changes because rape is such an underreported crime.
“You know, when statistics go up, we like to say ... maybe we're doing better outreach or they're more comfortable,” Ryan said. “When they go down, we like to think, ‘oh, maybe we're doing better prevention.’ And the answer is that we really don't know why those statistics fluctuate.”
The Survivor Advocacy Program is an organization that gives confidential support and advocacy services to student survivors of sexual assault, dating and domestic violence, and stalking. The organization closed temporarily in Fall Semester 2015 but reopened Fall Semester 2016.
The program’s director, Kim Castor, said having a confidential resource such as SAP allows survivors to reach out for support and choose not to report to police.
Castor said in Fall Semester 2017, the program saw 73 students total. Forty-four of those students were new and 29 had already been working with the program.
“Many of our clients come in multiple times for a variety of services including academic advocacy, medical advocacy, institutional advocacy throughout the Title IX process, law enforcement advocacy, and court advocacy throughout a legal process,” Castor said in an email. “During fall semester we had 334 interactions/appointments with our clients.”
Castor said SAP does not pressure students to report to police. Staff members just make sure students are aware of their options and know that the program will be there to support them regardless of which options they choose.
Ruby Cochran, a junior studying business pre-law and accounting who is a former Post columnist, said the program is a good resource for survivors.
“I think that after the uproar of quite a few activist groups when the program was basically dismantled, it shows that having SAP really is a necessity,” Cochran said in an email. “However, the administration needs to help better advertise and inform students of its existence because I still have students asking me about resources and places they can go to find support.”
Castor said regardless of whether a person chooses to report the assault to police or to tell anyone at all, their experience is still valid and their choices should be respected.
If OU students are unsure whether they want to report their assaults and wish to discuss their options or just want confidential support and resources, they can reach SAP at 740-597-7233 or firstname.lastname@example.org.