Reported rapes more than doubled at NYU’s Washington Square campus from 2014 to 2016, rising from 6 to 16 reported incidents, according to the university’s 2017 security and fire safety report.
The rise in reported rapes at the Washington Square campus has outpaced the rise in the NYPD’s 6th precinct, which also covers the Washington Square Park area. From 2014 to 2016, there was a 36 percent increase in the 6th precinct, or 11 incidents in 2014 and 15 incidents in 2016. During that same period, NYU saw a 166 percent increase in reported rapes.
“NYU has made significant strides in creating an environment where students feel comfortable coming forward more often to make sexual misconduct reports,” said NYU spokesperson Matt Nagel. “We have both worked to decrease the stigma around reporting and also empowered students to be aware of their rights and resources should they need assistance.”
From 2015 the number of rapes reported as occurring on-campus jumped from 4 to 16 incidents. Nagel said one factor that may have contributed to the rise in on-campus reported rapes is a change in federal reporting requirements.
“These new requirements, announced in June 2016, changed the designations of some NYU buildings from ‘non-campus’ to ‘on campus,’” Nagel said. “This resulted in an increase in the number of incidents that were reported as ‘on campus.’”
The building where NYU Journalism project Bedford + Bowery is based, at 20 Cooper Square, was one of those reclassified as “on-campus” under the new federal guidelines, Nagel said.
The report, released earlier this month, is a federally-mandated annual survey required of all colleges and universities that receive federal funding. It tracks crime on-campus and areas adjacent to the campus.
The NYU daily crime log lists numerous sexual assaults, with incidents like this one: “A student reported that on 4/2/2016 at 10:30 p.m. she was sexually assaulted by another student in his residence hall room. A police report was filed.”
Campus sexual assault has become a battleground in higher education since 2014, when Emma Sulkowicz carried her mattress around Columbia University to protest what she alleged was the school’s lack of concern for the victims of rape.
Sexual assault has remained at the forefront of the national conversation since then-candidate Donald Trump was heard on a leaked tape from 2005 bragging about his ability to grope women due to his celebrity. That conversation continued as the high-profile allegations against Roger Ailes, Bill Cosby and most recently, Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, became public. The Weinstein allegations inspired the #MeToo social media campaign, where more than 12 million women and 300,000 men attested to their experience with sexual assault or sexual harassment.
Nationwide, 23 percent of women and 5.4 percent of men experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation while enrolled in higher education, according to a 2015 report commissioned by the American Association of Universities, which includes 62 American research institutions, including NYU.
In recent years, the Obama Administration investigated universities around the country for their handling of reported rape cases and asked that schools use the lower standard of “preponderance of evidence” when determining whether to discipline a student for sexual misconduct.
Last month, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced those Obama-era guidelines would be reversed and schools could adopt a more stringent “clear and convincing evidence” standard.
According the NYU’s report, forcible fondlings, which includes gropings, also increased from 7 incidents in 2014 to 8 in 2015, and then jumped dramatically to 12 incidents in 2016 – a 71 percent increase from 2014 to 2016. Two-thirds of the 2016 fondling incidents occurred on campus with the remaining one-third occurring on public property.
In addition to the rise in rapes and forcible fondlings, there was an 800 percent rise in dating violence, which NYU defines as violence committed by a person who is or has been in a romantic relationship with the victim. Dating violence increased from 2 to 16 reported incidents between 2014 and 2016.
NYU Title IX coordinator Mary Signor didn’t respond to request for comment.
NYU’s Washington Square campus is defined as running from 8th Street south to Houston and from Broadway west to Washington Square West. Nagel said all crimes committed on-campus or in off-campus NYU buildings are recorded in the Department of Public Safety’s online crime log.
Other crimes in the report that had markedly high increases were burglary, which rose 229 percent from 2014 to 2016, including a 1,500 percent increase in incidents at on-campus residence halls.