U-M report finds increase in bias crimes and sexual harassment

Sunday, October 1, 2017 - 5:50pm

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Design by Jack Silberman

 

The University of Michigan released its 2017-18 Annual Security Report & Annual Fire Safety Report this weekend, indicating an increase in the overall number of bias crimes reported to the University and Ann Arbor Police Departments since last year. Two intimidation incidents increased to nine incidents — which ranged from property destruction to physical assault — motivated by race, religion and identity bias.

Furthermore, the report also showed an increase in the number of sexual assault and harassment incidents reported to the Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center. While sexual assault incidents increased marginally from 124 cases reported to 125, incidents of sexual harassment jumped from 25 to 60 cases.

The University releases these statistics each year in accordance with the Clery Act, a federal statute that requires public and private universities to release crime statistics each year.

In an earlier interview with the Daily, University President Mark Schlissel described plans for a website that will provide a detailed account of bias investigations. He noted the importance of remaining transparent while these investigations occur to maintain trust with students.

“I think one thing we are doing is trying to be more rapidly transparent about episodes that occur, so that everyone in the community knows where to look when they hear a rumor about something,” Schlissel said. “We’re putting up a website that gives basically a running summary of the events that happened, and the results of any investigations and practical things. I think that will at least help people know what’s going on.”

In an online statement released last week before the report, Eddie Washington Jr., executive director of the Department of Public Safety and Security, said DPSS officers work tirelessly to identify the perpetrators behind these crimes. He identified the Office of Student Conflict Resolution as an additional entity used to ensure students’ rights and responsibilities are upheld.

“We realize that recent incidents on and near campus have caused some members of our community to feel unsafe,” Washington wrote. “When crimes are reported, we always investigate each of the incidents. While sometimes investigations are not easily solved, we continue to look for new leads that can help identify perpetrators.”