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Sex Assault, Liquor Arrest Reports Rise at Dartmouth College



Thursday, October 02, 2014
Hanover — While the annual campus crime statistics released by Dartmouth College on Wednesday show that reports of forcible sex offenses and alcohol violations spiked last year, college officials said the numbers don’t indicate an overall increase in incidences of high-risk behavior.

Dartmouth’s 2014 Annual Security Report discloses that the total number of sexual assault reports had increased over the last year, from 24 in 2012 to 35 in 2013.

The report is required of all colleges and universities under the federal Clery Act, which mandates that schools log and distribute statistics of crime that took place on or near their campuses for the previous year.

In addition to the sexual assault reports, liquor law violations handled by the college jumped from 83 in 2012 to 243 in 2013, while liquor law-related arrests also increased significantly, from 16 in 2012 to 100 last year.

“It looks like it went through the roof, but it did not,” college spokeswoman Diana Lawrence said of the alcohol-related reports.

Lawrence attributed the jump in liquor law violations to a recent change in Dartmouth’s practices, where the college began to log alternative disciplinary programs that were previously omitted from the statistics.

“We are trying to report in the spirit of the law, and we worked with a national consultant who said, ‘This is what Clery wants. This is where Clery is going,’ ” Lawrence said of the college’s figures, which include cases that involved police and college educational programs that serve as alternatives to formal adjudication.

Where sexual assault was concerned, Lawrence said, “We’ve been encouraging a culture of reporting here at Dartmouth because we know that so many of these incidents are not reported.”

The 2014 report comes in the wake of a federal investigation into allegations made by students and alumni that Dartmouth, along with dozens of other schools around the country, failed to adequately report its crime statistics.

Heather Lindkvist, the college’s Clery Act compliance officer, said that this year’s higher numbers reflected a positive change on campus, where survivors felt more comfortable making reports.

“When someone discloses, they need to feel like they are being heard and believed and not judged,” she said.

When asked whether she thought the numbers in Dartmouth’s security report would continue to rise in coming years, Lindkvist said, “That would be my hope, my goal ... the more reports, the better job I’m doing and we’re doing to provide access to these resources.”

Rob Wolfe can be reached at rwolfe@vnews.com or 603-727-3242.