North Texas Daily

University crimes rates remain low despite higher incidents of reporting

University crimes rates remain low despite higher incidents of reporting

University crimes rates remain low despite higher incidents of reporting
February 11
11:00 2021

Trigger warning: sexual assault and sexual violence 

Despite a rise in reports to the Survivor Advocate office, reported crime on campus and/or involving students has not risen significantly, according to the 2020-2021 Clery Annual Fire and Safety Report

The document summarized the crime statistics both on and off-campus, from 2017 to 2019. Similar to the violent crime rates in Denton, the rate of criminal offenses at the university has remained consistent over the past years despite a growing student body. The highest jump in crime was tied between a rise of drug violation arrests and non-arrest campus alcohol referrals from 2018 to 2019.    

“Crime is very low on our campus and we see very little violent crime,” UNTPD Chief of Police Ed Reynolds said. “Just like any campus, we see fluctuations from year-to-year.”

Reynolds drew attention to the increase in rape cases from 2018 to 2019, which jumped from 11 to 20. 

“We did see an increase in sexual assault cases in 2019,” Reynolds said. “However, Texas law changed requiring individuals to report. This likely resulted in increased reporting and not necessarily an increase in incidents.”

The Survivor Advocate office, which also works with students impacted by violence, has seen a rise in students utilizing its services since its creation in early 2018. The office now serves more than 300 students, with numbers continuing to increase. However, office representatives did not suggest that the campus is becoming more dangerous. 

“Sometimes people become concerned that a school is unsafe when they report high numbers or statistics of violence or crime,” Survivor Advocate graduate assistant Eliyah Hernandez said. “These numbers should in fact indicate the opposite: higher numbers suggest that more people are coming forward and sharing their stories, and are placing more faith in their universities to provide due process.”

The Survivor Advocate office’s higher case rates are attributed in part to the rising awareness of the office, but it also should be noted that Texas Senate Bill 212, which mandated university employees to report various incidents of sexual violence, was passed in 2019. Recent incidents were also traced to tensions arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“During 2020, we observed an increase in domestic violence cases and stalking cases,” Hernandez said. “We attribute this trend to the onset of quarantine and isolation, particularly because people in volatile relationships had far fewer options for escape, retreat or respite from their abusers.”

Student perception of campus safety varies between each individual, but those like linguistics junior Gabriel Smith feel comfortable within the community. Over his year and a half as a full time student, Smith has lived on campus and frequently utilized shared spaces. 

“I like to think of the UNT campus as this little nugget of safety within the Denton whole where I can let my guard down and breathe,” Gabriel Smith said. “I feel comfortable leaving my laptop unattended in the Union, Willis, or BLB without fear that it won’t be there when I return. In my own personal experience, I feel comfortable walking around campus with little to no fear, but I know that’s not a privilege that everybody is afforded.”

Featured Illustration by Miranda Thomas

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Ileana Garnand

Ileana Garnand

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