Annual report doesn’t necessarily paint a realistic picture
By Sarah Stubbs
On Sept. 30 University of Findlay students and faculty received a peculiar UF Update in their inboxes. This wasn’t the usual invitation to a campus event or call for volunteers, but it was the annual security and fire safety report that is required to be made public each year by the Clery Act.
In this report, the last three years of campus crime (2012 – 2014) statistics are provided. This includes arrests, criminal offenses, hate crimes, unfounded crimes, VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) offenses, and disciplinary actions). Each of these subsets are further categorized by where the incidents take place: on campus, on-campus student housing facilities, non-campus buildings or properties, and public properties.
According to the report, 10 arrests have been made on campus for liquor law violations in the past three years — three in 2012, five in 2013, and two in 2014. There has been zero arrests on campus in the last three years for weapons: carrying, possessing, etc.; and drug abuse violations.
However, there has been a total of 81 liquor law violations since 2012 that did not constitute Findlay police involvement, but were handled by UF as “disciplinary actions.”
According to Dave Emsweller, vice president of student affairs, disciplinary action refers consquences such as expulsion, probation, warning, counseling, community service, and restitution.
“This (the 81 liquor law violations) means that someone in a residence hall was involved in an alcohol violation and we handled it with disciplinary action. It doesn’t mean the police were contacted or that we took legal action,” said Emsweller.
In the disciplinary actions: on-campus section, there was one weapon violation in 2012, one in 2013, and zero in 2014. There was also a total of 10 drug abuse violations (two in 2012, six in 2013, and two in 2014).
According to Emsweller, drug abuse violations are handled differently than alcohol violations.
Emsweller says that in certain cases where there is suspicion of drugs, there has to be enough concrete evidence for UF to turn the incident over to the police.
“Let’s say, someone is caught with a small amount of paraphernalia, we will normally treat that as an on-campus judicial matter because the reality is that the police are not going to pursue that,” said Emsweller.
However, at the point where drugs are actually discovered, Emsweller says that the incident is immediately turned over to the Findlay police.
“It’s very dependent,” said Emsweller. “And any time there is any call regarding any possible drug violation, security is brought over to investigate the matter and make a determination whether or not the police need to be involved. We don’t have RA’s or resident directors making those decisions.”
In the weapon, drug, and alcohol sections in the non-campus and public property sections of the safety report, there are zeros across the board for the past three years with the exceptions of two liquor law violation arrests on public property and one liquor law violation that resulted in a disciplinary action on public property — all three of which occurred in 2013.
These numbers are shockingly low and this is simply because of the way that the Clery Act defines non-campus and public property.
“This is the most interesting because people assume that if someone is walking back to campus from somewhere and gets a possession charge, that should be reflected, but it’s not because it’s not a part of campus. It’s a very odd way that they do this. I find it odd. But we follow those definitions exactly,” said Emsweller.
Another example Emsweller used was that if a University student were to get robbed walking on George St., it would not be reported in the safety report because it’s not a part of the UF campus and is not part of any public property that would be adjacent to UF’s campus.
Examples of non-campus properties that are included in the annual safety report are the farms and the All Hazards Training center on Route 12. These are non-campus properties are properties that are owned by and directly affiliated with the University.
“Public property is even trickier because the only thing that really counts is if something would happen on a sidewalk,” said Emsweller.
According to Emsweller, some sidewalks on campus are public and others are private. If something were to happen on the sidewalk in front of Old Main on Main St., for example, it would need to be reflected in the public property section of the report.
To ensure that every incident that needs reported is accurately reported, Emsweller says that the University spends a lot of time counting and talking to the Findlay police.
“We get data from the Findlay police and the Hancock County Sheriff and actually painstakingly go through every report,” said Emsweller.
Because of the fact that University students who are charged with criminal offenses off campus are not reflected in the report, Emsweller says that the requirements set forth by the Clery Act aren’t necessarily providing a realistic reflection.
“I think this needs overhauled quite frankly. To present a much more accurate picture, I think they would be doing a better service to students and parents by looking at each city and county and portraying all the crime statistics. Not just campus,” said Emsweller.