CW: sexual violence
Reported rapes at Pitzer College almost doubled in 2018, but students and administrators say the spike could actually mean students feel more comfortable about reporting incidents.
Fifteen rapes were reported in 2018, compared to eight in 2017 and six in 2016, according to the college’s annual Clery Report, federally mandated crime logs.
“Seeing higher rates of reports is not necessarily something that we’re super concerned about, because in many ways that can actually be a good thing,” said Max Meyers PZ ’20, who works with Pitzer Advocates to provide support for survivors.
“We know that sexual violence is incredibly prevalent on campuses across the nation [and] on campuses here in the 5Cs, [but] if we see a rise in reports, oftentimes, studies have shown that that actually means that people are just feeling more comfortable with administration,” Meyers said.
A 2016 Bureau of Justice Statistics campus climate survey of nine colleges found 87 percent of rape incidents went unreported to school administrators.
Kirsten Carrier, associate dean of students and director of residence life and conference services at Pitzer, provided additional context for the Clery Report which seems to support the idea that the increase in reports reflects an increased comfort with reporting.
Eight of the rapes included in this year’s report occurred between 2014-17, Carrier said in an email to TSL, but they weren’t reported until 2018 — and thus appear on the 2018 report.
The other seven incidents were both reported in and allegedly occurred during 2018.
This year’s Clery Report also indicates an increase in reported rapes at Pomona.
Seven rapes were reported at Pomona in 2018, compared to four in 2017 and six in 2016.
At Scripps College, reported rapes increased from four to seven from 2016 to 2017, but decreased to two in 2018.
At Mudd, reported rapes increased from five in 2016 to six in 2017 and then decreased to two in 2018.
At CMC, reported rapes dropped from 10 in 2016 to five in 2017 and just one last year.
Since six of the seven incidents from 2018 occurred in residential facilities, Carrier said Pitzer Residence Life has invested in measures to make its dorms safer.
These include “bystander intervention training for RAs, nightly RA duty rounds, a dedicated Campus Safety officer on Pitzer’s campus during peak hours, roommate and suitemate agreements, door-to-door RA initiatives on consent in collaboration with [Health Education Outreach] and the EmPOWER center, Title IX resources on the back of every door in the residence halls and additional resources given to new students during orientation,” she said.
“Campus Safety shares the view that any act of sexual violence is unacceptable and a larger threat to our community,” Laura Muna-Landa, a spokesperson for The Claremont Colleges Services, said in an email to TSL.
Muna-Landa said Campus Safety would like to “[join] all students, faculty and staff in their appreciation of each of the sexual assault survivors who chose one of the available reporting resources to raise awareness across their campus, and to access the many confidential resources.”
Muna-Landa did not directly respond to questions about the rise in reported rapes at Pitzer.
Despite the possibility that the rise in reports points to an improving campus culture around sexual violence, much work remains to be done both within and outside the administration, Meyers said.
“Everybody who works on issues around sexual violence is incredibly overworked, and there needs to be more funding [and] more staff on it,” Meyers said. “This is, in my opinion, the most pressing issue on campus.”