Numbers aren’t everything says Campus Public Safety (CPS). Looking at Pacific University’s recent release of the annual Clery Act Crime Statistics, CPS Manager Jerry Rice urges readers to understand the report is to be read with a grain of salt.
“Just because something’s not being reported doesn’t mean it’s not happening, the report simply helps gauge things,” Rice says.
These reports — detailing statistics like preliminary criminal offenses, hate crimes and drug and alcohol referrals — are in compliance with the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, better known as the Clery Act, originally enacted in 1990.
And while detailed, complete with all reported crimes required for report compliance, the report could be misinterpreted if not looked at with a careful eye and background knowledge of Pacific’s campus climate.
For example, the 2018 report shows a significant drop in drug referrals compared to that of just three years ago in 2015. With only 46 drug referrals in 2018 and whopping 114 in 2015 it could easily be assumed Pacific students aren’t engaging in this type of activity anymore.
However, Rice admits the rise in popularity of alternative drug practices like vaping and edibles have made these statistics less straight forward.
That doesn’t make him less optimistic, though, that this drop is also affected by other positive factors.
“Our hope is that those numbers aren’t just down because we’re not finding drugs, but because Campus Wellness has done a fantastic job with their educational component which has allowed students to make better choices,” Rice said. “Hopefully that’s more indicative of why we’re seeing lower numbers.”
Regardless of numbers, Rice says he’s keeping his finger on the pulse of national trends showing young students’ preference for recreational drugs over alcohol.
And, with a seemingly large rise in alcohol referrals in 2018 — 95 — compared to that of the year prior with just 63, Rice cites an influx of off-campus housing, sneakier students and continued Residence Life support as potential reasons for the steep drop in 2017.
“That’s obviously much harder for the university to control,” Rice lamented.
Interaction based statistics, like that of hate crimes and dating violence, are also important to note, according to those at the CPS office.
Eight cases of dating violence in 2018 — not to be confused with other sexual related charges which are reported independently of one another — show a steady rise from zero cases in 2016 and five in 2017.
Though small, this spike still holds the utmost importance to CPS and the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) overall.
“I think the issue [dating violence] in and of itself we need to give consideration to. It’s difficult enough learning those types of social norms in college and then adding violence to that creates a very complex scenario,” Rice said. “The hope is that people have become more comfortable coming forward and making these reports, as well as the university becoming more aware and recognizing this issue and addressing it through facets like Campus Wellness.”
On Thursday, Oct. 17 head of the university’s Counseling Center, Laura Stallings, spoke to faculty about what kind of resources are offered on Pacific’s different campuses and how to spot potential students in need, according to CAS Dean Sarah Phillips.
“Those types of sensitive issues are never easy for people to talk about, but we’re constantly learning and working to make the college a place where people can say those things, feel supported and receive the help they need,” Phillips said.
The same notion can be applied to that of hate crimes which have remained at zero for the past two years.
When asked if the two hate crimes reported in 2016 allude to politically motivated violence Rice himself remained dubious.
“My personal assumption would say these incidents could be partially based in politics and that our current political situation has allowed for those individuals to be emboldened, come out, and be a little bit more in-your-face with their viewpoints,” he said candidly. “From my managerial side though, I recognize there’s so many other biases and variants that play a role in these cases than just politics.”
Rice understand that while the community wants simple, clear-cut answers to incidents such as these, the sticky nature of being human inhibits such. But above all, he hopes students always feel comfortable enough to report anything — even the most complex of issues — to available campus resources.
“Always be mindful; just because the numbers tell a specific story that doesn’t mean that there are more negatives than positive,” Rice says. “Advocate for yourself and engage the university whenever you feel comfortable doing so for help.”
Having students reach out to CPS without hesitation, fear of judgement or worries of self-incrimination is the office’s biggest goal.
This sentiment was echoed by Senior Officer Ryan Kimberly. “If you’re not sure whether to call or not, you should always call. There’s never a wrong time to call CPS,” he recapitulated.