This semester, three sexual assaults were reported on or near campus, but TCU Police didn’t alert students because the crimes didn’t pose an imminent threat to the safety of the campus at large, according to Police Chief Steve McGee.
TCU Police records categorized all three assaults this semester as acquaintance rapes, and McGee said no alerts were issued because "the identity of the individual in question was known."
McGee said the current practice results from a new interpretation of the Clery Act, a law that requires universities that receive federal student aid to record and disseminate information about crimes on and near campus.
Regardless of that interpretation, the student body should be aware of every single crime that affects campus safety no matter the category of the crime or the identity of the individual.
There is a glaring problem with the current policy. It can give students a false sense of security when they aren’t warned about crimes on or near campus. Concealing sexual assaults because they aren’t considered an imminent threat means students are less aware incidents are actually occurring, and in turn, are more vulnerable individually and at a greater risk when a situation could potentially arise. Students would benefit from knowing that sexual assaults are happening on campus to take the appropriate safety precautions, rather than be in the dark.
For example, Rachel Holden, a senior strategic communication major who was threatened by a potential assailant in 2009, said that because she knew a crime alert would heighten a sense of vigilance in students, she felt comfortable coming forward with her story.
Holden said, "I thought it was a great thing to be aware of what was going on around campus."
Earlier this semester, Pam Christian, the university crime prevention specialist, said that if students don’t feel like there is a problem with crime on campus, they think there is no problem to fix. The low attendance at the Rape Aggression Defense classes offered by the university is a prime example. Christian said that RAD class attendance usually rises when there are campus alerts about sexual assaults. Perhaps if students were more aware of sexual assaults on campus, students would take the steps to defend themselves.
The bottom line is that information is being withheld that could compromise student safety. Greater transparency could lead to better public safety, and every single student should be aware of every single crime that happens on or near campus.
The editorial board is composed of the top editors at TCU 360 who represent a variety of experiences and viewpoints on campus. One of their responsibilities is to write TCU 360’s “Our View” column, which is operated separately from news coverage and seeks to reflect their invested, comprehensive opinions regarding the issues at hand.
Olivia Caridi, executive editor
Liliana Lamas, managing editor
Jake Harris, managing editor
Taylor Prater, managing editor