By Megan Greve and George Mauzy
Ohio University's latest crime statistics provide tangible evidence of reductions in high-risk behavior.
The Ohio University Police Department's 2007 Clery Act Compliance Report covers three years, from 2005 to 2007. It responds to a federal law requiring all college campuses to report their crime statistics to the U.S. Department of Education and the public by Oct. 1 each year.
The report shows 13 percent fewer alcohol violations in 2007 (908) than in 2005 (1,257). Alcohol violations in the residence halls also declined sharply -- from 1,213 in 2005 to 887 in 2007, a 27 percent drop.
This year's University Judiciaries statistics showed a similar trend.
Over the three years covered in the Clery document, drug-related reports on the Athens campus declined from 235 in 2005 to 203 in 2007. Drug arrests decreased from 91 in 2005 to 73 in 2007.
"I believe in part that the decrease in alcohol and drug violations over the past three years is a result of communicating clear expectations to our students," Vice President for Student Affairs Kent Smith said. "Our new sanctioning protocol and messaging about the risks of high-risk drinking to students has been consistent, and students have responded by changing some of their behavioral patterns."
Crimes against individuals also have declined since 2005, according to Clery report statistics. Forcible sex offenses on the Athens campus dropped from 17 in 2005 to 12 in 2007. Reports were at their lowest in 2006 at 4.
According to Director of Health Promotion Char Kopchick, a late 2005 change in how sexual assaults are reported to police may account for the low number the following year.
She said the revised sexual assault protocol requires all university staff members, except doctors and counselors, to share with police any information they receive about a possible sexual assault situation. She said personnel could no longer convey that information to police without sharing students' names, which she speculates resulted in reduced reporting in 2006. Over time, students gained trust in the new process, which also connected them with campus support services, and the number of reports increased.
Kopchick said national surveys estimate that only 16 to 38 percent of sexual assaults are reported -- as few as one in six.
"National statistics show that underreporting does happen frequently, so the Clery report is not really a true and accurate snapshot of sexual assaults," Kopchick said. "That is why we try to provide the students with the information they need to make a good decision that will keep them from getting into high-risk situations."
In other Clery stats, burglaries on the Athens campus decreased from 57 in 2005 to 48 in 2007, with a slight dip to 45 in 2006. Forcible burglaries increased from four in 2005 to 11 in 2007.
Ohio University Police Department Lt. Rich Russell said the increase was primarily due to several incidents at the Alvin C. Adams Residence Hall construction site involving the theft of copper wire and construction tools.
Two illegal weapons cases, two robberies and one aggravated assault were reported to OUPD in 2007.
The Clery report also includes statistics from Ohio University's five regional campuses and two regional centers, which had few reported crimes.
The 2006-08 Clery Act Compliance Report is available online at www.ohio.edu/police/rtk/upload/2008cleryreport.pdf.