UConn Releases Annual Safety Reports

The reports detail the issues UConn monitors to ensure the safety of its campus communities

The official University of Connecticut seal, in painted gold on an oak panel.

(Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

UConn is releasing two reports this week that detail its response to reports of criminal activity, sexual violence, serious on-campus injuries, and other issues it monitors to ensure the safety of its campus communities.

The first, the Clery Annual Security and Fire Safety Report, is required from all U.S. universities that receive federal financial aid funds. It includes data about certain crimes identified by the Clery Act, including violations of the Violence Against Women Act; arrests and disciplinary referrals for drug and alcohol violations; and hate crimes reported in the previous calendar year on property that UConn owns or controls and on public property within or immediately adjacent to campus.

It also includes a comprehensive overview of safety policies and prevention programs available to the campus community. It is compiled by the UConn Division of University Safety.

The second report, compiled by UConn’s Office of Institutional Equity (OIE), is a state-mandated annual overview in which all Connecticut colleges and universities must outline their policies and data on sexual assault, stalking, and intimate partner violence.

It captures a wider range of data in those categories than the Clery report because the data collected is not limited to incidents reported to have occurred on UConn property, and because it includes incidents reported even in the absence of a UConn connection.

Some categories listed in the Clery and OIE reports might appear to capture data about the same kinds of crimes and incidents, including some regarding sexual assault and related crimes. However, the numbers will differ between the two reports because of the differences in how the incidents are defined, and the locations for which incidents must be captured.

In addition, some categories listed in the Clery reports and federally required Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) – from which crime rates are calculated – might appear to reflect the same kinds of crimes and incidents. However, the Clery and UCR numbers will also differ because they use different metrics on the populations and places for what is included in each report’s calculations.

Importantly, some figures involving sexual assault and related crimes may differ because the University prioritizes the wishes of the victim in whether that person wants an investigation to be pursued. That helps them regain a sense of agency over their circumstances, and is part of the process to help them make the journey from victim to survivor.

The Clery report also includes an appendix with additional data required under Connecticut Public Act 21-184, which directs colleges and universities to report accidents on their campuses that result in serious injuries or deaths.

This is the first year in which those figures have been included. It comes after the Connecticut General Assembly last year adopted a version of the proposed federal COREY Act (College Operational Reporting of Emergencies Involving Teens and Young Adults), named for a University of Colorado freshman who died of a head injury shortly after a skateboarding accident on his campus.

2021 Clery Annual Security and Fire Safety Report

UConn is posting the report for calendar year 2021 on its website and distributing the link electronically in compliance with federal and state law, and in the interest of informing all enrolled students, faculty, and staff on this important subject.

The Clery report’s data includes reports from crime victims directly to UConn Police, along with information that comes to the attention of campus officials beyond law enforcement.

Those officials, known as “campus security authorities,” currently comprise nearly 1,200 people who regularly interact with students in their roles as resident assistants, coaches, faculty advisers, and other on-campus authorities.

The university has significantly increased training for those officials so that they better understand what they are legally required to report and the proper way to report it. In the case of sexual violence crimes, UConn’s Clery numbers reflect a large amount of input from campus security authorities, along with significant outreach services university-wide to encourage reporting of this traditionally underreported crime.

Of the 16 sexual assaults reported at Storrs in calendar year 2021 – up from seven one year earlier – police received three reports directly from individuals. The rest were reported by campus security authorities, including Residential Life and Student Affairs, to be included in the Clery report.

The COVID-19 pandemic significantly decreased the on-campus population at Storrs and the regional campuses for much of the 2020 calendar year, and the number of incidents reported during that period decreased as a result. Previous figures from 2019 and this year’s 2021 figures are more representative of a typical year.

The numbers also increased as students became more aware of resources and avenues of reporting that are available to them, particularly as they have transitioned back to campus life after living off campus and studying remotely during the pandemic.

UConn takes an expansive view on what is included in the data by counting all sexual assault reports received in a given year, regardless of the level of detail known to the university; regardless of when the assault is reported to have occurred; and even when the report comes from a third party in the absence of a complainant.

This is an important part of UConn’s commitment to creating and maintaining a campus free from all forms of sexual harassment, sexual violence, relationship violence, and stalking.

Under a University policy adopted in 2012, nearly all UConn employees are “responsible employees” to report sexual assault. Because that policy is specific to UConn and other institutions might take different approaches, comparisons are difficult to make against other universities whose policies are not as robust and whose reporting requirements are not as stringent.

The University provides information online for all individuals impacted by sexual assault to receive support and file reports, including through its website on sexual violence, relationship violence, and stalking awareness.

UConn’s 2021 Clery report also captures data on reports of domestic violence, which is defined differently in Connecticut than in many other states. The 2021 figure of eight events reported is up from six in 2020. As with other incidents, the larger on-campus population in 2021, compared to the low population during the height of the pandemic in 2020, was a factor in the increase.

Before June 30, 2019, Connecticut’s domestic violence laws afforded protection to any people who lived together, including college roommates in non-romantic relationships, but the law was changed starting July 1, 2019, to include two exemptions.

The first exception clarified that platonic roommates are not subject to mandatory arrest when they who are attending higher education and live on campus or in off-campus housing that is owned, managed, or operated by the institution.

The second exception extends to platonic roommates anywhere who are making payments pursuant to a written or oral rental agreement, also excluding them from mandatory arrest. The secondary exception would apply to sororities or fraternities who are owned and operated by individual organizations.

However, roommates who are in a dating relationship, married, formerly married, related by blood or by marriage, or who have a child in common are still subject to the family violence mandatory arrest laws.

In reviewing Clery data, it is also vital to understand that the ways in which domestic violence is defined and application of the applicable laws vary from state to state, making comparisons to other states’ institutions invalid.

For instance, UConn’s domestic violence reporting process captures figures for the number of victims, not the number of incidents. Therefore, if two people involved in one incident both report it separately, the same incident appears twice in the data as two separate offenses if both individuals are the victim of a crime. One overall event can generate two or more statistics.

University officials promote awareness of UConn’s bystander intervention programs, which help increase awareness of sexual violence on campus and empower students to be effective, proactive bystanders.

One such program, Protect Our Pack, is presented to all incoming first-year and transfer students at the Storrs and regional campuses during fall orientation as students settle in for the new academic year.

In addition, UConn Police also offers many initiatives tackling difficult conversations about stalking, intimate partner violence, consent, and effective communications. The programs are offered throughout the year to students at all academic levels.

Under the new state law, UConn’s Clery report includes an appendix reporting serious accidental injuries or deaths that it can identify on its campuses for 2021.

Those incidents can include, but are not limited to, injuries or deaths that resulted from vehicle collisions, and in which pedestrians were hurt or killed while walking, jogging, bicycling, skateboarding, and similar activities.

The data must also include injuries and deaths from on-campus slips and/or falls such as tripping at ground level or falling from heights, including off bunk beds; alcohol or drug overdoses; choking or drowning; and other accidental incidents.

The UConn Division of University Safety has worked to quantify such incidents by reviewing reports from its police and fire/EMS records, Student Health & Wellness, and other sources.

2021 UConn OIE Report Pursuant to State Statute Section 10a-55m

In addition to the annual federally mandated Clery report, UConn also submits to the Connecticut General Assembly a yearly report specifically on sexual violence policies and data.

Figures in this report exceed those in the Clery data because it captures all incidents disclosed to UConn, regardless of on or off-campus location or the year in which they are reported to have occurred.

The 2021 OIE report indicates that OIE received 87 reports of sexual assault, of which 62 were reported to have occurred during the calendar year. The University’s definition of sexual assault is broad and can include incidents such as unwanted touching (sexual contact) along with more physically invasive offenses categorized in criminal law.

The sexual assault disclosure numbers also include reports of incidents from many years ago, including childhood abuse – all of which helps the university provide appropriate, compassionate, and trauma-informed services to students and employees if and whenever they choose to share their experience with the University.

Among the 87 reports of sexual assault, 32 of the respondents were identified as being connected to UConn; eight of the reports came in anonymously or confidentially; and in ten cases, the reported victim chose to participate in a University investigation.

Those who report an incident can request a University investigation at a later time should they wish, not only at the time they make a report.

The University takes steps to follow the wishes of the victim whenever possible and not investigate unless that individual wants the University to do so. Only in limited circumstances will the University proceed with an investigation against a victim’s wishes.

Factors considered within this determination include the age of the victim, whether there is evidence of a pattern of misconduct, the severity of the misconduct, and whether there is a safety risk to the victim or the campus community.

In matters where an investigation does not occur, the University may still take responsive or preventative actions, such as meetings with the alleged respondent and/or additional training and prevention work with impacted communities.

UConn’s OIE report for 2021 also includes 16 reported incidents of stalking – the same number as the previous year – of which 15 were reported to have occurred in 2021. In six of the stalking cases, the respondent was identified as being connected to UConn.

One of the reported victims chose to participate in a university investigation at the time of that person’s report, but the others retain the right to request an investigation later if they wish.

A total of 81 cases of intimate partner violence (IPV) were reported, including 55 reported to have occurred in 2021. In 21 of the intimate partner violence cases, the respondent was identified as being connected to UConn; and in three of those cases, the reported victim chose to participate in a University investigation.

As with other categories, those who reported intimate partner violence but chose not to participate in a University investigation can still request one later if they wish.

In addition to providing data, the OIE report outlines more than 300 awareness and prevention programs and campaigns during the year. They include the “Protect Our Pack” bystander intervention training provided at new student orientation; UConn’s Violence Against Women Prevention Program (VAWPP) Consent 201 courses; the widespread training provided to employees; and many others.