Minnesota colleges are reporting an increase in sexual assaults on their campuses. The rise is very sharp compared to recent years, which has led to an urgent call to lower the number of sex offenses that are occurring on campuses all around the country.
The University of Minnesota, which has already had two high-profile rape causes during this current school year, reported a 31 percent increase in the number of sexual assaults in 2012 compared to 2008. Across Minnesota, the number of sex offense reports rose from 115 to 141 between 2008 and 2012, according by information that was provided by colleges under the federal Clery Act.
This increase in reporting is showing that more victims are coming forward more often as law enforcement and colleges change how they handle these crimes. Statistically, one in five women is assaulted on campus and some have stated that this is a statistic that has become the norm.
In addition to completed assaults, close calls are also being reported.
In one case, a student and three of her friends had just left a midnight show at a local Minneapolis theater when a man in a black SUV stopped and asked her and another friend if they wanted a ride. He said he was a taxi driver, but the vehicle he was driving was unmarked. They refused the ride and the man drove away.
Two hours later, the man approached another student, stating that he was a police officer. She got in the vehicle and he drove to an area just west of Interstate 35W and he raped her. This woman contacted police, but there are few victims who do. Among the female sexual assault victims that are in college, a study in 2007 found that just 12 percent of them come forward.
However, there are also cases where sexual assault is reported and it never happened. It is imperative that such cases are handled with care because there is a victim in the mix somewhere.
It has been found that women often know their attackers. Both university- and national-level surveys have shown that the number of people who have reported sexual assault in their lifetime remained the same as it did in the 1980s. Most campus attacks go unreported because the victim usually knows their attacker. Women fear that society will blame them for the crimes because of what they were wearing or the fact they were at a party. The number of false claims also causes victims to have to go through a difficult time when they report an assault.
At the University of Minnesota, it has been announced that there are a number of safety initiatives being put in place. Although many women know their attackers, the two sexual assaults that happened last fall were committed by men the women didn’t know. So now the Board of Regents proposed $4.1 million to pay campus police officers more overtime and to add better lighting and security cameras. While students are encouraged to walk with friends, not all of them have that opportunity.