Campus

Latest Data Shows Sexual Assault Still an Issue at Loyola

Sexual misconduct remains a serious problem at Loyola, with six sexual assaults reported to the school from July through September of this year alone.

That’s according to recently released records from the school’s Title IX coordinator, documenting various gender-based statistics on rape, stalking and other unwanted contact.

Title IX is a federal law that prohibits sex-based discrimination, which includes sexual harassment and assault, and requires universities to create policies for handling reported incidents.

The records don’t provide detail on the incidents, whether sexual assaults involved students or faculty, strangers or those known to the alleged victims. Nor do they relay whether the incidents were reported to police, or how the school responded. But the records provide a snapshot of sexual misconduct so students and the public at large can gauge the extent of the problem.

Overall, the records cover six categories: Dating or domestic violence, sexual harassment, sexual exploitation, non-consensual sexual contact, non-consensual sexual penetration (commonly known as sexual assault) and stalking.

The records show:

  • Three reports of dating or domestic violence
  • Seven sexual harassment reports
  • One report of sexual exploitation
  • Eleven accounts of non-consensual sexual contact
  • Six stalking reports

The total includes 32 reports from students and the other two reports were filed by faculty or staff. However, these reports are unfounded, meaning not all of them have been investigated, according to Senior Vice President for Administrative Services and Title IX coordinator Thomas Kelly.

Simply put, the Title IX data is a list of all gender-based misconduct reported to the university. As these incidents are investigated, Kelly said some might change categories.

However, Kelly said these numbers follow a trend Loyola has seen throughout recent years: the reports of gender-based misconduct are increasing.

While he was unable to provide exact numbers regarding the increase, Kelly said the university considers this a positive sign.

“We think it means people on campus are becoming more aware about how to report,” said Kelly. “We’re trying to be responsive and trying to provide resources.”

Kelly said the university expects the number of reports to continue to rise as the university continues to expand and promote its resources.

Tracie Pape, a social worker at the Wellness Center, echoed Kelly’s opinion. She said survivors of gender-based violence, such as sexual assault, can feel isolated when they don’t talk about their experiences.

“Our numbers for reported cases are going up which is exactly what we want because we want survivors to be able to tell Screen Shot 2015-10-14 at 3.44.38 PMsomebody what happened — to get the support they need and then to know what their options are without anyone telling them what they should do,” said Pape.

Incidents can be reported several ways. A crime can be filed through Campus Safety, the Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution, Title IX coordinators or reported on the EthicsLine Reporting Hotline (855-603-6988).

Loyola’s senior health educator Stephanie Atella said students can seek out advice at the Wellness Center when choosing how to report their experiences.

Two full-time staff members, one part-time and graduate student volunteers staff the Wellness Center and can also discuss what a visit to the emergency room might look like for evidence collection, discussing the students’ rights and even finding emergency housing.

“We’re trying to constantly talk about it and not be an institution where we’re pretending like it doesn’t happen because we know it does,” said Atella.

Atella said regularly talking about gender-based violence helps take away the stigma and encourages awareness.

“The administration here is not one that is shying away from the numbers increasing,” said Atella. “Some institutions think if we have high numbers, students won’t come, but our institution believes that high-numbered reports means that we’re creating a climate where students feel safe coming forward.”

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Grace Runkel is the former editor-in-chief of The PHOENIX. She’s from Floyds Knobs, Indiana, a small town just north of Louisville, Kentucky. There she’s interned with multiple news outlets, as well as at WGN in Chicago. One of her favorite journalism memories is getting to interview Lee Crooks — the voice of the CTA.

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