With Title IX Changes Being Implemented, Students Have Doubts about Relationship Violence Numbers

As colleges continue to confront the issue of sexual violence on campus, recent changes to Title IX intend to make more transparent the often unseen issues of dating and domestic violence.  At McDaniel, many members of both faculty and the student body hope these changes will be to the benefit both to individuals and the larger community as a whole.

In accordance with the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013, schools must now be more specific when reporting sexual violence on campus in their end of the year crime reports, as required by the Clery Act. According to McDaniel’s Title IX Supervisor Jennifer Glennon, “These updates have expanded the reporting categories to include acts of relationship violence, specifically incidents of dating or domestic violence and stalking.” Dating violence in this case refers to abuse and violence between individuals not living together, whereas domestic violence refers to individuals who are cohabited.

Schools are not required to implement these changes until July of this year. However, according to Glennon, “McDaniel has already started reporting these incidents and they are included in the college’s 2014 annual Fire Safety and Security Report.”

According to Acting Director of Campus Safety Eric Immler, this was an effort to be “ahead of the curve,” and that it helps Campus Safety “better identify very specific incidents occurring on campus.”

An examination of the aforementioned report for 2014 finds records only extending up through 2013, and has on record 17 sexual assaults and two cases of fondling. A footnote clarified that “12 of the 17 reported rapes in 2013 took place over a 3 year period and were reported by the same individual.” In the areas of Domestic Violence, Dating Violence and Stalking, however, there are zero reported cases.

When asked about this lack of reported cases, a number of students expressed that they were certainly heartened by the seeming lack of cases, but could cite that many cases did indeed go unreported. For example, Lauren Hawkins stated, “The lack of numbers is good, but something like this is hard to talk about, and it feels like there’s a sense of silence.” She said of relationship violence, “I think it’s happening on our campus.”

Other students echoed Hawking’s statements. “I know for a fact it’s happening,” says Emily Gebhart, who spoke from personal experience. Another student, Jason Swartz says that “it’s scary” to think that relationship violence could be happening.

Other students had their own theories on why the numbers were so low. “[Acts of relationship violence] are happening on campus,” says Alexandra Miller. “I think that they’re either not being reported or Campus Safety is misreporting them for good rapport. These kinds of things are happening all the time but not necessarily everyone speaks up about them.”

Calvin Salacain contributed to this piece.