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Crime Report From University Of Utah Shows Sharp Increase In Rape And Stalking Incidents Last Year

Photo of 'U' sculpture lit at night.
Brian Albers / KUER
The University of Utah released a campus safety report Tuesday.

Reports of rape at the University of Utah rose almost 70%, and stalking incidents more than doubled last year, compared to 2018.

That’s according to a campus safety report released Tuesday by the school. The analysis uses data from a number of offices at the U, including the Department of Public Safety and Housing and Residential Education.

Chris Nelson, a spokesperson for the university, said it’s difficult to know how well the number of reported incidents reflects actual cases because rape and stalking tend to be underreported.

“We hope that the numbers reflect the increased resources available to assist victims and support them through the reporting process,” Nelson said.

Rebecca Hardenbrook with UnsafeU, a student group that was created in response to Lauren McCluskey’s 2018 on-campus murder, said she would like to see more preventative actions, as well as more details about the increased reports of stalking to better understand the issue.

“Stalking is a particularly scary crime because it can escalate to violence in unpredictable ways,” Hardenbrook said. “So some questions we could be answering is is it occurring in person or is it online stalking? Is it from the hands of an intimate partner or not?”

Hardenbrook said her group has requested an online dashboard to display campus safety data. She believes it would be more accessible to students than the more than 70 page report.

“We can’t expect students to sit down and parse through all the information when it’s laid out in that format, considering that, at this moment, a lot of them have just finished finals,” she said. “This report can’t serve as an alternative to clear communication to the campus community, which should be one of the major priorities of our public safety department.”

In a statement prefacing the report, University of Utah Chief Safety Officer Marlon Lynch said it was designed to connect students and others at the university with resources to help keep them safe.

“I recognize that safety looks and feels different to each person,” Lynch said. “I am committed to leading a division that works with the community to foster a safe environment where all individuals feel empowered and equipped to succeed in their work, education, and other business with the university.”

Emily Means is a government and politics reporter at KUER.
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