Stanford releases annual crime data and discusses results

Most of Stanford’s 2017 Safety, Security & Fire Report is devoted to promoting personal safety and crime prevention on campus. The report, which is required under federal law, provides data on campus crimes, including sexual offenses, alcohol arrests and burglaries.

While there were few year-to-year changes in most categories of campus crime between 2015 and 2016, Stanford’s 2017 Safety, Security and Fire Report showed a decrease in the number of alcohol arrests and an increase in the number of sexual offenses.

According to the report, 45 sexual offenses were reported to university officials in 2016, including 33 rapes and 12 fondling incidents. In 2015, a total of 39 sexual offenses were reported, including 25 rapes and 11 fondling incidents. The vast majority of these incidents were reported to the university’s Title IX Office and those reports led to investigations and adjudications under the Student Title IX Process, a pilot process now undergoing review.

The Title IX Office encourages anyone who has experienced sexual assault to consult with on-campus resources, such as Stanford’s Confidential Support Team , or off-campus resources, such as advocates at the YWCA, to understand their reporting options, and to give serious thought to filing a police report as soon as possible after the incident.

"Doing so ensures that evidence can be collected in a timely manner, which helps to preserve a victim’s options regarding the criminal and the Title IX process - or both," said Laura Wilson, director of the Stanford Department of Public Safety (Stanford DPS). "Investigations by the Title IX Office and Stanford DPS can proceed simultaneously."

Students can also document their experience on Callisto , an online platform that Stanford is piloting and which allows students to record unwanted sexual conduct, time-stamp it in a secure web environment, and choose whether and when to submit it as a formal report to Title IX or to Stanford DPS. Stanford adopted Callisto last May for a trial period.

Lauren Schoenthaler, senior vice provost for institutional equity and access, attributed the rise in the number of sexual assault reports to increasing awareness of students regarding what conduct constitutes an assault, and a decreasing stigma around bringing forward a report.

"Over the past year, Stanford investigated more student cases than we had in the prior year, and we are hopeful that is a reflection that more of our students are willing to engage with the Title IX Office to resolve and redress their concerns," Schoenthaler said. "We have adopted Callisto on a trial basis at the recommendation of our students as one additional way to control how a report of assault is made to the university."

In recent years, Stanford has undertaken many steps to work toward its goal of a campus culture free of sexual and relationship violence. On the website Sexual Respect at Stanford , the university provides continuing updates on existing and new initiatives.

Schoenthaler said Stanford has invested in innovative student training for all incoming undergraduates - Beyond Sex Ed - that focuses on good sexual citizenship. In addition, the university’s Office of Sexual Assault & Relationship Abuse Education & Response is bringing new programs to campus this year in partnership with the School of Medicine’s Prevention Research Center and other partners.

"Each year when we review our data, it is a reminder of all of the work we need to continue to do to end sexual violence on our campus, in our community and in our culture," Schoenthaler said. "We will never be satisfied until these numbers go to zero."

High-level information about campus sexual assaults

For the second year in a row, Stanford has decided to share high-level information about the sexual assault reports made in 2016.

"In order to understand and be able to respond to the sexual assault epidemic on college campuses, universities should share appropriate information - while noting some privacy concerns - that reflects what is happening on campus," Schoenthaler said. "The following information is provided to share what has happened at Stanford. A further report will be released in early 2018."

Sexual assault and fondling reports

Sexual assaults: There were 33 reported instances of sexual assault at Stanford in 2016. (Under the Clery Act, the federal law that requires institutions of higher education to report crime statistics, sexual assaults include actual or attempted rape/penetration and oral copulation.)

Of those 33 cases, three involved multiple counts of sexual assault, resulting in 30 unique reports of sexual assault. Stanford does not have sufficient information to report on four cases, two of which were reported to the Palo Alto Police Department, and two of which came through anonymous reports. Two reports did not relate to Stanford students or community members, although one report did relate to an unknown suspect accosting an individual in a Stanford grove. The remaining matters involve Stanford students as either a complainant and/or a responding student. Those matters had the following outcomes:

Stanford investigated 11 of those cases (more detail is provided below). In addition, the university engaged in informal intervention at the request of the complainant and under circumstances in which the identity of the responding students were unknown. Another case resulted in an informal intervention at the request of the complainant. Five cases were investigated by Stanford’s Title IX Office as well as by police - at the request of the victim. No charges and/or convictions resulted from those five investigations. In 10 cases, the suspects were unknown or the complainant declined to identify the suspect.

Under an investigation, Stanford interviews parties and witnesses, and collects relevant documents. An informal intervention is a step the university takes to intervene directly or indirectly with the accused student to correct the behavior, short of an investigation. When an informal investigation is not effective, the university can move to an investigation.

Under California law, Stanford must report all possible sexual assault cases to local law enforcement; under this same law, Stanford is prohibited from sharing the victim’s name unless the victim grants permission.

Stanford formally investigated 11 sexual assault cases. Hearings on five of the 11 cases resulted in three findings of responsibility with penalties of suspension and two findings of no responsibility. Stanford resolved five other cases with non-hearing resolutions, with outcomes ranging from permanent separation from the university, a campus ban, education and an order to stay away from the complainant. After an investigation into one charge (also involving a domestic violence report), the university issued a no-charge decision.

Statutory sexual assault: There were no statutory sexual assault reports in 2016, compared with three reports in 2015.

Fondling: There were 12 reported incidents of fondling in 2016, compared with 11 in 2015. The 12 cases reported last year include 11 unique cases and one case involving multiple reports. One incident involved summer campers; two cases involved a report that an unknown suspect groped the buttocks of a woman, one at a football game and one in a campus restroom. Two cases involved allegations among contract/temporary workers, which the university investigated. The remaining cases involved a student as the complainant. In three instances, students reported being groped at parties by unknown suspects. In the remaining three instances, the Title IX Office entered into two non-hearing resolutions, and engaged in one informal intervention.

Domestic violence: There were nine reports of domestic violence in 2016, compared with 12 in 2015. The 2016 cases included eight on campus and one on public property. The Title IX Office investigated the four cases in which students were involved: two cases resulted in non-hearing resolutions; one case resulted in a hearing with a finding of responsibility; and the final case was a no-charge decision (which is also described above as a sexual assault case). Stanford does not have information regarding the remaining three reports.

Dating violence: In 2016, there were no reports of dating violence, compared with one incident in 2015. Dating violence is defined as violence committed by a person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim.

Stalking: In 2016, there were 21 reports of stalking, compared with 18 in 2015. Most of these incidents involved a Stanford community member receiving unwanted attention from someone outside of the Stanford community.

Of the five stalking cases in which the reported stalker was a Stanford student, there was one non-hearing resolution, two informal interventions (directing the individual to cease contact), and two instances in which the Title IX Office did not take action at the request of the complainant. (Stalking is defined as engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for his or her safety, or the safety of others, or suffer substantial emotional distress.)

New website: Stanford Sexual Violence Support & Resources

Stanford recently consolidated information about the support and resources the university offers to students affected by sexual and/or relationship violence into a new website: Stanford Sexual Violence Support & Resources.

The new website, which replaces the "Not Alone" website, provides links to detailed information in six categories: urgent help; reporting; safety measures and university accommodations; Stanford policies; information for accused students; helping others.

The website also provides links to Stanford programs, including the Confidential Support Team and the Office of Sexual Assault & Relationship Abuse Education & Response (SARA).

In addition, the new website provides a link for providing confidential feedback on the pilot Student Title IX Process to the Advisory Committee on Sexual Assault Policies and Practices, which is chaired by Pam Karlan, a professor of law at Stanford. Last May, Provost Drell provided a progress report on the pilot Student Title IX Process, the university’s process for investigating and hearing Title IX cases. The advisory committee has invited the entire Stanford community to provide feedback on the process.

Confidential counseling, emergency response and medical support are available 24 hours a day to all Stanford students affected by sexual and/or relationship violence.

Other campus crimes

The 2017 Safety, Security & Fire Report provides crime statistics and information required by federal law for all institutions of higher education.

Data is not restricted to incidents that involve students, faculty and staff; it also includes the crime data for visitors and people who are on campus for a camp or conference. The statistics reflect incidents on the main campus, as well as properties owned or controlled by the university, such as the boathouse in Redwood City and hotels in which students have stayed when engaged in university-related activities such as research or a sporting event.

The report provides statistics for the years 2014, 2015 and 2016.

In 2016, alcohol arrests declined to 62, compared with 70 in 2015. Drug arrests declined to 19 last year, compared with 20 in 2015.

In 2016, the university received four reports of aggravated assault, compared with zero in 2015. Deputies made five weapons arrests in 2016, compared with four in 2015. The number of reported burglaries dropped to 56 in 2016, compared with 57 in 2015. Thieves stole 35 motor vehicles in 2016 - mostly golf carts - compared with 36 the previous year.

Last year, the university received reports of six hate crimes: three incidents of vandalism related to religion and national origin; one incident of vandalism related to race; one battery related to race; and one threat related to sexual orientation. In 2015, there were two reports of hate crimes, including one incident of vandalism related to religion and one attempted assault related to sexual orientation.

As she has stated in past years, Wilson emphasized that everyone in the Stanford community plays an important role in ensuring campus safety.

With the current national discussion about race and fears about what could happen if one is undocumented, Wilson said it was important that community members not be reluctant to involve law enforcement and emergency medical personnel.

"If someone needs medical attention or if you think they pose a threat to themselves or to others, please use the resources which are available, including the police and emergency medical personnel," she said. "Failing to call 911 could result in a tragic outcome and that would be antithetical to the value we place on the safety and well-being of our community."

Getting copies of the 2017 Safety, Security & Fire Report

An electronic version of the report is available on the Stanford DPS website. Print copies may be requested by phone, (650) 723-9633; by email, publicsafety [at] lists.stanford (p) edu ; or by U.S. Mail, Attn: Crime Statistics, Stanford Department of Public Safety, 711 Serra St., Stanford, CA 94305-7240.