When it comes to issues of sexual misconduct and violence, the Collegian believes that colleges and universities across the country — as institutions that have been known to mishandle incidents of sexual misconduct — should do more than they are legally required to.
Legally, under the Jeanne Clery Act, colleges participating in federal financial aid programs are required to release information regarding campus crime in each year by Oct. 1 of the next year. Kenyon did this, and it should be made clear that they are in compliance with the law regarding the statistics they reported for the 2013 calendar year.
What Kenyon did not do, however, is explain when they released the Clery numbers why there were zero reported cases of sexual misconduct in those statistics when there were very different numbers reported in the Student Handbook’s Summary of College Rules Violations.
The Handbook summary reported 18 cases of non-consensual sexual intercourse and 13 cases of non-consensual sexual conduct — both including confidential cases — during the 2013-14 school year. There were also three cases of sexual exploitation, five cases of sexual harassment and one case of dating violence. It was irresponsible of Kenyon not to make the community aware that while zero cases of sexual misconduct were officially reported to the Office of Campus Safety, 40 were reported to Student Affairs and many more likely went unreported.
The Clery statistics reported by Kenyon are all technically correct, but the only place where the reality of sexual misconduct on campus is more accurately represented is at the tail end of the Student Handbook. The Handbook is available online, but Kenyon only made an effort to widely publicize the sexual misconduct statistics as a response to the controversy surrounding allegations of Kenyon’s noncompliance. Granted, the College is not required to report rules violations in the Handbook, and it is to their credit that they do so, but an increased measure of disclosure on the part of the College could only add to the administration’s credibility, not detract from it. If Kenyon is going to err on any side, it should err on the side of overreporting.
The confusion surrounding Clery Act statistics and the technicalities of the law is pervasive throughout higher education institutions and even the federal government. Nonetheless, Kenyon bumbled the manner in which it publicized its sexual misconduct statistics, which is concerning especially considering the heightened national attention surrounding Title IX and campus sexual assault.