September 22, 2019 | 77° F

Rutgers reports decrease in sexual assaults despite increase at NJ colleges

Photo by Dimitri Rodriguez |

Events like “Take back the Night” — a protest organized by Women Organizing Against Harassment (WOAH) that marched 250 students from Douglass Campus to the College Avenue campus, demonstrate a growing awareness of sexual violence at Rutgers. 

Despite reported sexual assaults at four-year colleges in New Jersey increasing in 2016 from the year prior, the number of reports at Rutgers has dropped from 26 in 2015 to 23 in 2016. 

In other colleges, there was a 24 percent increase in reports of rape from 2015 to 2016, with a total of 138 reports in the latter year. Reports of fondling and dating violence also rose, with 70 reports of fondling in 2016 and 63 reports of dating violence, according to a report by NJ Advance Media.

Reports of sexual assault increased in approximately half of the four-year colleges across the state, according to the report — but Rutgers saw a decrease in reports of rape, fondling and domestic violence. 

According to crime statistics in the Safety Matters 2017 report from the Rutgers University Police Department (RUPD), reports of fondling decreased from 14 in 2015 to eight in 2016. And after a 68 to 114 report increase from 2014 to 2015, the number of domestic violence reports decreased to 84 in 2016 – 16 more than the amount two years earlier.

Between 2014 and 2016, there were zero reports of dating violence at Rutgers, according to the RUPD report.

Despite a decrease from 2014 to 2016, data from the U.S. Department of Education shows that Rutgers ranked eighth highest in the nation in 2016 in reported sexual assault cases. 

According to NJ Advance Media, efforts from colleges across the state to encourage students to report sexual assaults on campus have played a role in the higher number of reports.

At Rutgers, efforts like “Turn the Campus Purple,” hosted by the Office of Victim Prevention and Violence Assistance (VPVA) and last April's "Take Back the Night" march, attempt to raise awareness of the prevalence of sexual violence on campus. 

“The University has policies and processes in place to address allegations by all individuals who have been subjected to sexual assault, harassment and violence,” Dory Devlin, a Rutgers University spokesperson said in an email to the Targum. “Those processes are confidential and thorough and are managed by trained professionals in human resources or student affairs. We encourage anyone who has been a victim or has a concern to come forward at any time. The University takes all complaints seriously, maintains confidentiality and prohibits retaliation against those who bring complaints.”

Ryan Stiesi

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