Reported incidents of on-Grounds burglary and rape, dating violence, domestic violence and stalking increased from 2017 to 2018, according to an annual report released by the University of Virginia on Monday.
A university spokesman attributed an increase in reported sex crimes to the Me Too movement, which exploded in prominence in the fall of 2017 after myriad people made sexual assault and harassment claims against high-profile men, many of which are now being worked out in courts.
“We recognize that even with the uptick in reporting, these numbers still do not reflect the actual number of incidents that are likely to have occurred in a community our size, based on the research surrounding the underreporting of these offenses,” said UVa spokesman Wes Hester. “That said, we are encouraged to see an increase in reporting, which may in part be attributed to the Me Too movement.”
The safety report, required each year under the federal Jeanne Clery Act, includes all crimes reported to campus police, other law enforcement and university officials — such as the university’s Office for Equal Opportunity and Civil Rights, which also investigates reports of sexual violence.
According to the report, 28 rapes were reported to campus police in 2018; 20 occurred in student housing. One incident was deemed unfounded. Police also investigated 16 reports of dating violence, 14 reports of domestic violence and 43 reports of stalking.
Incidents include a January 2018 report of assault and May 2018 report of attempted sexual assault by rideshare drivers. In September 2018, Jowell Travis Legendre was arrested for allegedly assaulting a UVa student on a Charlottesville street. He faces trial for forcible object sexual penetration, forcible sodomy and larceny charges in November, and is also charged with crimes in other incidents.
The Clery Act also requires schools to give timely warnings of crimes that threaten the safety of students and employees. Students asked for a better alert system after recent criminal incidents on Grounds that were not noticed through existing systems, which led to the creation of a new student safety app, LiveSafe.
The app, which officially debuted this summer, allows users to anonymously share tips and information with officials, share locations with friends and know if a safety incident occurs near them.
LiveSafe is just one of a series of safety and security upgrades UVa has made since 2017; changes include rewriting the university’s free speech and assembly policy, adding security cameras, increasing officers and using social media monitoring.
More hate crimes were reported at the university in 2018 than in 2017; the university investigated one incident of intimidation based on race, two incidents of intimidation based on religion; one incident of intimidation based on sexual orientation; and one incident of assault motivated by race.
In 2017, only three hate crimes were reported; one was based on race and two were based on sexual orientation. No 2017 incidents were specifically related to the violent white supremacist rallies that took place in Charlottesville.
The year before, police received seven reports of hate crimes, which a university spokesman said at the time were likely due to the 2016 presidential election.
Arrests for liquor and drug violations decreased in the past year, while an increasing number of liquor and drug infractions were reported to the university for disciplinary action.
The report includes crimes reported on campus proper, public property adjacent to campus and non-campus properties such as fraternities, sororities or buildings used for university purposes that aren’t necessarily near Grounds.