This year's Annual Security Report — a document published by the University listing crimes committed on campus, in non-campus buildings and on adjacent public property — reports for the first time on dating violence, domestic violence and stalking. It has reported "sex offenses," both forcible and non-forcible, in previous years, as well as sexual assault, but not the more specific crimes listed above. Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Education published final changes to the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 that will go into effect in July, and one of the regulations requires universities and colleges to report statistics about incidents of dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking. The University is one of many schools that began implementing the rest of the requirements "in good faith" this year, complying with the act's request that schools begin reporting these instances now, even though they aren't required to begin reporting them until July.
The fact that the law didn't require schools to report these incidents previously is baffling, but at least some are doing so now, and in less than a year, the law will require all to report these crimes. In the past, the security report has included crimes such as liquor law violation arrests — arrests for a crime that usually hurts no one — but no statistics on the much more harmful crimes of dating violence, domestic violence and stalking. Now that this information is available, hopefully the easy accessibility will help people better quantify and understand how frequently these crimes occur. Domestic and dating violence, as well as stalking, are crimes people often either shy away from discussing or sensationalize, and neither of those extreme methods decreases the occurrence of these crimes. Both the University's and other schools' transparency of information involving these crimes will hopefully help strengthen campus organizations' abilities to continue teaching students about domestic violence and similar crimes against both women and men. Universities and colleges must do everything possible to diminish the communication barrier that surrounds discussions of crimes of this nature, because that's essential to people’s becoming fully educated about these problems.