CHATTANOOGA, TENN (mocsnews.com) Since the Coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S. in February of this year, reports of crime on campus have decreased, with sexual misconduct decreasing the most.
According to UTC’s 2019 Annual Security and Fire Safety Report, from 2016 to 2018 there were 46 rapes, 23 aggravated assaults, 68 reports of stalking, and 30 reports of domestic and or dating violence.
UTC’s Title IX Coordinator, Stephanie Rowland, says there have been a few changes in how these reports are dealt with.
“The only change due to the pandemic is that a student can choose to meet with me or other individuals via Zoom,” she says. “Many students are learning remotely and may need assistance in their hometown and I can help connect students with resources close to them. I can also help connect them remotely with on campus resources.”
According to campus sexual violence statistics from the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), college aged women are three times more likely to be at risk for sexual violence and “13% of all students experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation.”
UTC student Danielle Kaul says she hopes the pandemic is encouraging people to commit less crimes.
“I will say that I’ve noticed fewer emails regarding crimes reported,” she says. “Compared to other semesters, there have only been two or three this fall. I would hope the pandemic is keeping people from committing crimes and is keeping them home.”
According to “The Realities of Sexual Assault on Campus” from Best Colleges, just over 20 percent of undergraduate women and transgender, nonbinary, and genderqueer undergraduates report sexual assault. Only seven percent of undergraduate men report sexual assaults.
UTC Police Captain, John Boe, says even though the pandemic is ongoing, UTC housing has been at near full capacity for this fall semester. However, he says, there has been a downward trend in relationship violence this semester.
Boe also recommends that if a student finds themselves in one of the situations mentioned above, they contact UTCPD.
“Please reach out to us and know that we will respond to meet the needs of our community members without fail,” he says.
Even though there has been a downward trend in crime on campus, Captain Boe says all reports are still taken seriously.
“We would provide a normal response with regards to a concern from our community members, regardless of the situation,” he says. “As essential workers, we are required to perform our duties in a professional, expedient manner, utilizing all the resources available or at our disposal, and those are numerous I might add.”
Boe notes that students will always come first, and that UTCPD is always willing to help whenever needed.
“Although we are currently mired in a pandemic that has altered the fabric of our everyday lives, we as a society have chosen to come together and unite what is good in each of us for the common good all,” he says. “Our motto for the last several years has been, “students first,” and we will continually strive to meet the needs of the community we serve.”
If you or someone you know would like to report a crime, contact UTCPD at 423-425-4357 or for issues regarding Title IX, contact Stephanie Rowland at 423-425-4255.