Editor’s Desk – Campus Sexual Assaults Nobody Knew About

By Melanie Perez


Did you know that there were three reported rapes on campus between January and December 2015?

All three occurred on-campus in the residence halls.

There were also two reported cases of domestic violence on campus – one in a residence hall and one elsewhere on campus.

How did I find out?  The same way everybody else on campus was “told” about it – Dean Michelle McCroy-Heins sent an email to the FDU community stating (in a small paragraph among many) that updated Clery Act (campus crime report) statistics were uploaded to the FDU website, that there was voter registration offered through the Dean’s Office and that students can get free New York Times subscriptions.

Problem number one is that this report isn’t more public – it’s a tiny part of a large email that most students delete without reading – why not just put a copy in our mailboxes or give them out in classes?

Problem number two is that the report itself is difficult to understand.  There are five columns: “on campus,” “on non-campus university-controlled property,” “in contiguous public areas,” “campus residences,” and “hate crime.”

“The on campus column is the total number of incidents that occurred on campus and takes in the numbers of all other columns,” said Director of Public Safety David Miles.

Although there was virtually no other reported violent crime in 2015 other than the counts of rape and domestic violence, people should be in uproar about even just a single rape.

Besides the elusiveness in availability and clarity of the report, perhaps the saddest part about those rapes is that there were could be more victims who did not report it.  Why not?  Probably because our culture has a disgusting habit of victim- shaming.

What were you wearing?

Did you lead him/her on?

What is your sexual history?

Give me a break.  It doesn’t matter what the person was wearing, how many sexual partners he/she has had in the past, or if he/she was half naked and changed his/her mind about wanting to have sex.

Rape is rape and I’m furious about it – furious for the victims (regardless if they were male or female), furious that there isn’t more being done on campus.

It’s hard to know what you would do if you were sexually assaulted until you’re in that situation, so I want to make it clear that I’m not saying that all victims of sexual assault should speak out.  But I don’t want the three people who were raped last year to be just numbers in a chart.

I realize that there is a level of mandated confidentiality with regards to sexual assault victims, but there needs to be more awareness about campus violent crime – especially rape – and we shouldn’t be finding out about it a year later.

I know students on campus, especially those on the Student Athletic Advisory Committee, have taken the “It’s On Us” pledge against sexual assault (according to the FDU website); but is the pledge enough?  Is simply putting up post-assault numbers around campus enough?

Those who have taken the pledge have agreed to intervene in situations when consent has not or cannot be given, but these pledgers will not be around in every situation as a preemptive measure.

We need something more.  We need unification.

It could be as simple as holding a solidarity walk every time there was a rape allegation.  It would allow victims to choose to stay anonymous if they want, but it would also let the FDU community know that something horrible happened to one of our peers, and we will stand in solidarity with them.

Every year the administration sends out a survey on student’s opinion on campus safety.  And every year, when I get to the question on whether or not I feel safe on campus, my answer is a resounding “no.”

I’m still afraid when I walk at night that I’ll get attacked.  The campus is too dark and there are too few emergency buttons.  I’m afraid that I don’t really know people on campus as well as I think I do – 75 percent of sexual assaults are committed by someone we know, according to the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network  I’m afraid of somebody breaking into my dorm because there’s no security.

This is an open campus, so any person could waltz on to campus and students would know none the better.  There is inadequate residence hall security.  Yes, regulations say that guests have to sign in to the Lindens and Northpointe, but I’ve never had to sign in and have never been stopped.  And there is literally no security in the University Courts – no desk area to sign in regular guests and no enforcement of the overnight guest policy.

I find it astounding that the Giovatto Library has better security than any of the residence halls.

I’m deeply saddened and disgusted about the sexual assaults on our campus, but credit is due where credit is due – FDU is on the tail-end of the reported rape continuum – Ramapo University reported six rapes in 2015 in the Clery database, with a population of around 6,000 students, while FDU Metro reports around 8,000.  Their administration has a far longer way to go than our administration does, considering that they basically have one rape for every 1,000 students, but every life is valuable and every voice is worthy to be heard.  Come on FDU, when next year’s report comes out next year – I want the number of victims to be zero.

If you would like to see the Clery Report for yourself, visit http://view2.fdu.edu/about-fdu/facts-about-fdu/clery-act-statistics/