Clery Report Details Crime at the 5Cs

The Claremont University Consortium (CUC) reports a crime nearly once a day while class is in session, according to data collected by the consortium per the requirements of the Clery Act. The vast majority of the crimes are acts of theft and burglary, while crimes relating to sexual violence constituted 4 percent of total reported crimes.

There were 342 instances of crimes reported to Campus Safety throughout the consortium from April 22, 2013, to April 22, 2014. Of these reports, only 8 percent of the proceeding investigations have been ruled “closed” by Campus Safety or the Claremont Police Department (CPD). Most of these closed cases have ended in the suspects' arrest by the CPD. 

Pomona College Senior Associate Dean and Director of Housing and Operations Frank Bedoya said that the high rate of unsolved cases reflects frequent bicycle theft.

“Typically, our biggest form of theft of campus is bicycle theft,” he said. “The majority of the time, it’s not recovered, meaning that the crime would then remain as an open case because there was never any resolution.”

The numbers back him up: While thefts of all sorts represent 56 percent of reported crimes throughout the 7Cs, bicycle theft represents 27 percent, or 95 total incidents, of all reported crimes at the consortium, the highest percentage of any particular crime. Of those 95 crimes, in only three cases have suspects been arrested by the CPD. 

Bedoya urged students to use better security locks to prevent their bikes from being stolen.

“What I’ve seen many times around campus are cut-off cable locks at a bike rack,” he said. “Students should use, rather than a cable lock, a more secure U-lock. If they have a quick release wheel on the back or the front of the bike, students should ensure that they got that wheel secured. The most protected bikes I’ve seen on campus are those that use a cable lock and a U-lock connected.”

The second most prevalent crime at the consortium is burglary, which was reported 50 times during the year and constitutes 14.6 percent of all reported crimes.

According to the data, all burglary cases are open to CPD investigation.

“Students feel relatively safe within the residence halls,” Bedoya said. “They should be reminded that they should lock the door to their room and carry their keys with them at all times. We are our biggest protectors ourselves as to how we lock our rooms and protect our belongings.”

At least one student, however, reported that those measures did not prevent a burglary in her residence hall room. 

Melody PO '15, whose name has been changed for anonymity, was a victim of a burglary on March 26. While leaving one morning, Melody locked her room and kept her backpack inside the room. When she returned later that afternoon, Melody realized that her backpack was missing. She then noticed that her room seemed to have been broken into through the window.

“I couldn’t sleep in my room after that,” she said. “I had always felt safe around campus. I never had any suspicion that I’d be a victim of a crime.”

Once she realized that her backpack had been stolen, Melody called Campus Safety. Officers arrived at the scene promptly, checked the window screen, asked Melody about details of her belongings, and then left after notifying her that they would be in contact with the CPD and call her back soon.

“[Campus Safety] never contacted me after that,” she said. “They said they were going to call me for more information, but it never happened. There hasn’t been any follow-up whatsoever.”

Campus Safety did not provide Melody an explanation of how someone could have accessed her room through the window. However, after analyzing the broken window screen, Melody noticed that one of the bolts used to sustain the screen did not match the rest. The mismatching bolt, which she described as circular and of a bright color, rather than rectangular and gray like the rest, meant that the window did not close all the way.

Of the 342 crimes that were reported, 14 involved sexual violence. The types of sexual crimes listed in the crime reports include sexual assault, rape, and sexual battery.

“I believe the number of sexual assaults on campus are heavily underreported,” Pomona Title IX Coordinator Daren Mooko wrote in an email to TSL. “I know all the Claremont Colleges have taken significantly positive steps over the past few years to improve our policies and outreach and as a result, I believe we are seeing an increase in the number of reported sexual assaults. Still, I think they are heavily underreported. Our first priority is to decrease the number of sexual assaults on campus. Our next priority is to encourage students who have been sexually assaulted to seek support and resources and to report the assault.”

According to the data, five sexual assaults have been reported at Claremont McKenna College, the most at any of the five college.

Liat Kaplan CM '16, a co-founder of the CMC Advocates for Survivors of Sexual Assault, believes that the actual number of assaults is much higher than that.   

“I can count at least twice that many that have occurred just within a few small circles of my friends,” she said.

Kaplan said that there is a sense of disillusion with the entire process of reporting a sexual assault that may dissuade victims of sexual assault from reporting incidents to Campus Safety.

“People don't report in part because it's so common,” she said. “If women reported every time they engaged in a sexual act that wasn't explicitly consensual, we'd never leave the camp sec building. In my experience, you get sort of numb to it, and as horrible as it is, you develop a tolerance for sexual violence.”

Kaplan also voiced a sense of fear of reporting someone as a sexual predator on such a small campus. 

“If you report someone being a predator, you'll still see that person or at least all their friends all the time,” she said. “And that's just during the time it takes to process and investigate the report. If the rapist isn't expelled, which they almost never are, you'll see them for the rest of your college career.”

Ultimately, Kaplan said that if the Claremont Colleges wish to see a higher number of sexual assaults actually being reported to the authorities, the relationship between victim and responder must change. 

“As long as the main people trained and available to talk to people who have been assaulted are mandatory reporters, no one is going to talk about it at all,” she said. “We need trained responders who are not mandatory reporters so that people who have been assaulted can talk about it without fear of all the trouble that comes with reporting.”

Students at the Claremont Colleges can access crime statistics by going to the Campus Safety office and requesting information on campus crime reports. Students are able to immediately see crime reports from 60 days before their petition, but must wait at least two days if they wish to access data on reports from more than 60 days ago.