CW: Mentions of rape, sexual assault, and dating violence
Gary Granger, the Director of Community Safety at Reed, recently released the Annual Security Report (ASR) for the 2020 calendar year. Mandated by the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (Clery Act), colleges must outline crime statistics, policies, reporting procedures, and information regarding crime and safety on campus. Most significantly, the report compares data across three years, assessing the trends in crime through time, with notable findings presented in the graph below.
Surprising results in the report included significant drops in sex offenses and dating violence between 2018 and 2020. Granger clarifies that these changes in data are not necessarily reflective of the true number of cases of these crimes on campus. He says, “The crime reporting, particularly crimes like that, is so complicated, so I don’t know that we know or will ever know exactly how accurate reporting is.”
Granger goes on to explain that the sex offenses were grossly underreported in the early 2010s, but five to seven years ago, new reporting systems were put into place to encourage students to report these crimes.
Granger says, “If you look back five to seven years ago, you will see reports in the 20s, 30s, and more in a year, which seemed staggering in some ways, but not really. If you got half the people who were assaulted to report within a year those are the kind of numbers you would expect.”
Over time, however, this uptrend began to drop. Granger attributes this to changing laws and expectations surrounding confidentiality and protecting victims’ rights. Additionally, the development of the Sexual Health, Advocacy, & Relationship Education (SHARE) program at Reed has provided an alternative route to addressing sex offenses.
Granger states, “People have this experience. They are victimized, and they seek out help and everything at Reed points people toward a confidential conversation first. […] Some people go into the confidential report process and don’t come out because they get what they need. They get support, they get care, they get healing, they get someone to listen to them, and they find a way to move through whatever trauma-wise, and that doesn’t require a formal report, so that doesn’t end up on the Clery report.”
Ultimately, due to the sheer breadth of factors that could be impacting the way crimes are committed and reported, there is no one way to confirm what caused the shifts in data. Granger concluded, “I’d like to think it’s fewer people being assaulted, and maybe it is because we have a pretty strong consent culture at Reed […], and it’s probably partially people going into the confidential system, getting what they need, and not coming back for the official report, and there are still significant barriers, real and psychological, from getting the report.”
Granger also notes the decrease in drug and alcohol related crimes: “Drug violence numbers had been declining a little bit in the pre-covid years, and then they just plummeted, and again I don’t think that’s necessarily because people are using fewer substances, or maybe they are I don’t know, but the whole way that people interact in a space and with one another changed so dramatically, that we just weren’t encountering people, like you know we couldn’t have a party, anywhere, anytime, for any reason, so people gathering together and having social interactions necessarily are a big part of substances.”
He went on to emphasize that the positive to this situation is that members of the Reed community have been using the medical amnesty policy, and his main concern is reducing harm and keeping students safe as they use substances.
On the other hand, the 2020 ASR has shown a significant uptick in burglary cases. Once again, when tracing the factors that could cause such changes in data, Granger stresses that many factors lead to these shifts. He also acknowledges that the report works with data that is a year old, so it is difficult to unequivocally determine what causes these changes.
Granger speculates that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the number of burglaries on campus, saying, “Some things that happened during COVID were that we locked the campus down and we locked buildings. That gave us a better ability to detect when people were trying to get into places that otherwise might not have been locked. So several buildings that were left unlocked until 10 o’clock at night were all of a sudden locked up. […] when [campus] looks deserted, it looks inviting. This is why we also see an uptick in attempted thefts on campus in the winter break and summer break, and especially winter break because it just looks like a ghost town.”
Moreover, Granger acknowledges that “the social dynamic in Portland” has been changed. He says, “Crime is up across the country […] I guess it’s surprising because the campus has never experienced that, it’s not surprising when you look at what’s happened to Portland.”
Granger reassures the student body by highlighting the actions that Community Safety has taken, is taking, and will be taking to reduce crime on campus. These include moving bushes around highly targeted areas, such as the Grove, so people cannot break into buildings by hiding in them. Most importantly, Community Safety is working to develop secure bike storage, as bicycle thefts are a great crime of opportunity on campus.
Granger says, “Whenever there’s an attractor on campus that will bring people in, once they’re here [they may think,] ‘If I’m willing to steal a bicycle off campus, I’m willing to steal your backpack. I’m willing to reach into a car that isn’t locked; I’m probably the same person who’s willing to commit a crime of opportunity’… If you make bikes really hard to steal on campus, then the people who would steal bikes will be less and less likely to come to campus, and that would decrease crime a lot.”
Granger also urges students to act when they see something or someone out of place. He emphasizes that crime can be prevented by any member of the Reed community, and Community Safety is present and willing to look into any concerns that students may come across.
**All charts are based data taken from the 2020 ASR and the 2017 ASR