While Stanford University saw a decline in some crimes in 2016 — alcohol arrests, drug violations and domestic violence, for example — others increased, including sexual offenses and hate crimes.
Stanford released on Friday its annual Safety, Security and Fire Report, which details crimes statistics the university is required to report publicly under federal law. The data includes students, faculty, staff and campus visitors.
In 2016, 45 sexual offenses were reported to university officials, up from 39 the prior year and 30 in 2014.
Last year's total includes 33 rapes (which includes sodomy, sexual assault with an object and oral copulation; three cases involved multiple counts of sexual assault, resulting in 30 unique reports) and 12 incidents of fondling, defined by the university as "the touching of private body parts of another person for the purpose of sexual gratification, without the consent of the victim, including instances where the victim is incapable of giving consent because of his/her age or because of his/her temporary or permanent mental incapacity."
In 2015, there were 25 reported rapes and 11 instances of fondling, according to the report.
Last year, there were no reports of dating violence (compared to one the year prior) and lower rates of domestic violence (nine total cases compared to 12 in 2015). Stalking was slightly up in 2016, however, with 21 total cases compared to 18 the year before.
The "vast majority" of sexual offenses were reported to the university's Title IX office, which is charged with the response, investigation and adjudication of incidents that fall under the federal anti-discrimination law, according to a university press release on the safety report.
Lauren Schoenthaler, senior vice provost for institutional equity and access, said in the release that Stanford is "hopeful" the uptick is a "reflection that more of our students are willing to engage with the Title IX office to resolve and redress their concerns."
The press release attributes the rise in sexual offenses to "increasing awareness of students regarding what conduct constitutes an assault, and a decreasing stigma around bringing forward a report."
Stanford has taken steps in recent years to ease the reporting process for people who have experienced sexual violence, including by promoting the availability of a 24/7 confidential support team, adding new training for all incoming undergraduates and piloting an online platform that allows students to record sexual misconduct and decide later if they want to pursue a formal investigation.
This summer, the university also released a Title IX progress report with a higher level of detail on reports of sexual violence. The university said it intends to release such a report annually.
Of the reported rapes in 2016, 26 took place in student residences. Two were reported to the Palo Alto Police Department, and five were investigated by both Stanford's Title IX office and police "at the request of the victim," the release states. No charges or convictions were made in those five cases, according to the university. In 10 cases, the suspects were unknown or the person who said they were assaulted declined to identify the suspect.
Of the 11 reported rapes Stanford investigated, about half (five) resulted in formal hearings and half (five) in non-hearing resolutions, in which the university decides that a "reasonable" hearing panel could find that the alleged conduct occurred, and both parties agree to an outcome such as a campus ban or stay-away order instead of proceeding to a formal hearing with a potential finding of responsibility. Non-hearing resolutions cannot be appealed.
The five hearings resulted in three findings of responsibility with penalties of suspension and two findings of no responsibility, according to Stanford. The university issued a "no-charge" decision in one case involving a domestic violence report — meaning the Title IX coordinator concluded that a hearing panel could not find by the preponderance of the evidence standard (it's more likely than not that the conduct occurred), according to the report.
Of the nine reports of domestic violence in 2016, Stanford investigated the four in which students were involved. Two cases resulted in non-hearing resolutions; one in a hearing with a finding of responsibility; and one in a no-charge decision.
Most of the stalking reports involved a Stanford-affiliated victim "receiving unwanted attention" from someone outside of the Stanford community, the release states. In the five cases where the reported stalker was a Stanford student, the university issued one non-hearing resolution, two informal interventions (directing the individual to cease contact) and no action in the last case at the request of the person who was reportedly stalked.
There were four aggravated assaults reported last year, two of which were associated with a student residence.
Though reports of hate crimes are still relatively low on Stanford's campus, they have doubled since 2014. There were three hate crime reports in 2014, two in 2015 and six last year.
In 2016, Stanford saw three vandalism incidents based on religion/nationality in which swastikas were painted on signs on campus, another vandalism case in which a racial epithet was marked on a restroom mirror, one reported threat of physical violence that targeted an individual based on perceived sexual orientation and one reported battery targeting an individual based on race, according to the report.
In other crime categories, Stanford saw a decrease in alcohol arrests — 62 in 2016 compared to 70 in 2015. There was one fewer drug arrest (19) in 2016 compared to the year before.
Burglary rates remained steady in 2016, with 56 total reports in 2016 compared to 57 the year before.
The university press release quotes Stanford Department of Public Safety Director Laura Wilson encouraging all members of the Stanford community to report crimes.
"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," the release states.
"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," Wilson 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."