75% Increase in Reports of Sexual Violence on Campus Since 2017


by Zachary C. Young

Published Jan. 24, 2021

UNCP has seen an overall decrease in criminal activity, but reports of sexual violence have increased in the last three calendar years for which data has been finalized, according to the university’s annual safety report released on December 29.

There were 42 reported incidents of “sexually violent crimes” on campus in 2019, 28 of those occurring in the residence halls. This statistic includes sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence and stalking. In 2018 and 2017 there were 35 and 24 reported sexually violent crimes, respectively.

The data is categorized in compliance with the federal law known as the Clery Act and the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which was reauthorized as part of the Clery Act in 2013.

Ronette Sutton Gerber, Director for the Office of Title IX and Clery Compliance. Image/UNCP.edu.

During 2019 there were seven reported cases of rape, all of which occurred in the residence halls. All of the sexual assaults in the report (including fondling and statutory rape) were committed against women, but VAWA reporting would also include male statistics and other gender identities if those victims report.

The university issues the report annually in October in compliance with the Clery Act. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Department of Education extended the deadline to December.

In a campus-wide email, Ronette Sutton Gerber, Director for the Office of Title IX and Clery Compliance, explained how the university determines their statistics.

“The report contains crime statistics for the previous three calendar years concerning reported crimes that occurred on the university’s Clery geography, which is: 1) on campus property; 2) in residence halls; 3) in/on off-campus property owned or controlled by UNC Pembroke; and 4) on public property within, or immediately adjacent to and accessible from the campus (public roads),” the email stated.

“There can be many reasons for the increase in the reports of sexual violence,” Gerber noted in a follow-up email to the Pine Needle. Multiple offices at UNCP collaborate yearly to train the campus community about sexual violence, reporting options and supportive measures for victims. Gerber said her office hired a full-time investigator in 2018 who enhanced their efforts to provide educational sessions for student groups.

Not all sex offenses are reported to campus police.

“We will not force a Complainant to file a report with campus police nor will we provide notice to campus police for them to respond,” Gerber said. “We would only do so if the Complainant wanted to report to campus police or if the situation raised safety concerns such that campus police needed to take action for the safety of the campus community,” she wrote.

The annual safety report provides a detailed definition for consent to sexual activity that is in effect at UNCP, as well as what is not considered consent (see page 58 of report).

While sexual violence offenses are to be reported to the Office of Title IX and Clery Compliance, the “Clery crimes” that are to be reported to campus police are: murder and non-negligent manslaughter, manslaughter by negligence, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, motor vehicle theft and arson.

In 2019, there was one robbery reported on campus and one burglary in the residence halls. Additionally, two disciplinary referrals and one arrest were made on campus for illegal weapon possession.

Eighty disciplinary referrals were issued for drug violations on campus, with no arrests made. Sixty-one of those referrals were made for students in the residence halls.

Most UNCP employees, including student employees, are mandatory reporters under Title IX or the Clery Act and must tell Gerber’s office if they are informed that a sexual violence offense may have occurred and must report other Clery crimes to campus police.

The annual report also includes fire safety and natural disaster preparedness information and can be accessed here.

Students and employees who have experienced dating violence, domestic violence, stalking and/or sexual assault are encouraged to report the incident to the Title IX Coordinator at 910-521-6281. Sexual violence complaints can also be submitted electronically.

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