Despite less time on campus, 2021 reports show uptick in sexual misconduct cases

The front entrance of Alexander Hall building with small palms on each side of the entrance.
The publication of the Claremont Colleges’ 2021 Clery reports indentified an increase in number of reports of crimes involving sexual violence from that of 2019, and a decrese in reports of other types of crime. (Wendy Zhang • The Student Life)

TW: sexual assault, violence

Instances of sexual violence at the Claremont Colleges were reported in 2021 at similar levels to previous years on campus despite less time spent on campus, disclosures from the colleges showed this fall.

Clery reports are independently released by each of the 7Cs every Oct. 1 to comply with the 1990 Student Right-To-Know and Campus Security Act. They contain data collected by Campus Safety about federally-designated crime categories, like sex offenses, violations of the Violence Against Women Act and burglary.

The data contained within the recently-released reports cover calendar year 2021, when students were only on campus during the fall semester due to the pandemic.

The disclosures reflect 21 reported instances of rape in 2019. In 2021, there were 20 reported instances across the 5Cs despite students having spent only one semester on campus that year.

Pomona College experienced an increase in reported rape, with nine cases of rape reported in 2021 and five cases reported in 2019. 

Erica Taylor, associate dean and Title IX coordinator at Pomona, told TSL via email that the increase was “in alignment with national trends across higher education reflecting a rise in students reporting Title IX matters as we transitioned students back to living on campus.”

Title IX is the federal anti-discrimination law which determines how colleges who receive government funding must respond to instances of sexual violence on campus. 

“Many attributed this to students having access to the reporting resources they did not have during remote learning and two classes of students living on campus for the first time,” Taylor said. 

Pandemic-related circumstances may have contributed to the increase, Pomona Campus Advocate Lekha Admin PO ’23 said.

“There is a national increase in domestic violence and intimate partner violence during the pandemic … [and] this is something that has been tracked,” Amin said.

Pitzer College also experienced an uptick in reports, with six reported cases of rape in 2021 compared to five in 2019. Pitzer’s Title IX Coordinator Alyssa-Rae McGinn said the data may be in part related to last year’s series of public stories of instances of on campus sexual violence amid an outpouring of dissatisfaction with Pitzer’s previous coordinator. 

“Some of these [shared accounts] were known to the Title IX Office already, but some new reporting parties identified themselves to me as well,” McGinn said. “In addition, sometimes hearing others’ stories can make one feel more empowered to report, and I received some reports from other students who wanted their accounts documented or wanted support. All of these new reports were accounted for in those 2021 numbers.”

McGinn added that, in the past couple of years, students have become more aware of what healthy sexual relationships look like. 

There is often a discrepancy between the cases that are reported and the actual occurrence of these crimes, she added. 

“I think we’ve seen reporting generally increasing as societal awareness increases, and that is always going to make the numbers look higher.” McGinn said. “In the Title IX world, high numbers are often a good thing — it means survivors are feeling empowered to speak up, and that has not been the case historically.”

Students have recently challenged 5C Title IX protocols, which Amin has called “re-traumatizing,” based on their efficacy in supporting survivors.

“I think it’s really great that [people who reported] decided to share their story, but also for those who don’t decide to report, that does not mean anything about them — it does not mean that they were not strong enough,” Amin said.

Pitzer saw 15 reported cases of rape in 2018, the most in at least eight years.

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