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Annual Crime Report Indicates More Drug Offenses, Other Crimes Steady

By Jonathan Meilaender

Saint Vincent College recently released the 2019 Clery Act report, which chronicles crime and fire safety statistics from 2016-2018.

Overall, crime numbers are low, but drug policy violations increased over the three years reported.

No assaults or robberies were reported last year. There were four cases of burglary. Two “vehicle thefts” are listed, with both vehicles in question being golf carts.

Alcohol violations have stayed at about the same level over the last three years. There were 97 in 2016, 102 in 2017, and 100 last year. Only two drug offenses were recorded in 2016. But in 2017, the number was 20; and last year, the number jumped 50 percent to 30 offenses. On average, this comes out to about one alcohol or drug offense per 14 students for last year.

These numbers appear to be in the same general range as those reported by comparable colleges and universities.

For example, Grove City, Geneva, and Washington and Jefferson Colleges had two, five, and 29 drug violations, respectively. In the same order, the colleges reported 5, 20, and 165 liquor offenses. Seton Hill had 23 drug offenses and 31 alcohol offenses. All four colleges have student bodies of generally similar size. (See the chart for a visualization.)

Geneva College may be an outlier because of its stricter alcohol policies. It is a “dry” campus, meaning that alcohol is not allowed anywhere on campus for anyone, even those of legal drinking age. Saint Vincent, by contrast, permits students 21 or older to keep alcohol in their rooms for personal use, according to the Student Handbook, and serves alcoholic beverages at some school functions.

In addition to these offenses, the report also lists incidents of sexual assault and stalking. Saint Vincent had one reported case of rape each of the last two years.

Eileen Flinn, Saint Vincent’s Title IX coordinator, stated that the report does not list sexual assaults committed off-campus. There were three in 2016 and one in 2017, she said, but none were reported last year. In any case, according to Flynn, the true number of incidents may be significantly higher than the report states, as sexual assaults are under-reported on college campuses and in general.

“Saint Vincent encourages student and employees to report these incidents not only to the college, but also to local law enforcement. Only around five percent of campus sexual assaults are reported,” she said.

Many students don’t report incidents because they are afraid of potential repercussions, Flynn explained, since drugs and alcohol are frequently involved. However, a recently-passed law requires Saint Vincent to provide amnesty in such cases.

“In June of 2019, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania passed a law requiring colleges and universities to provide amnesty from drug and alcohol policy violations,” she stated.

But the college has actually been providing amnesty for a long time, even when it was not required, she added.

Saint Vincent’s reported sexual abuse rates are also in line with comparable colleges, but SVC continues efforts to drop the numbers lower.

“The first step toward college campus safety is being informed on the subject of sexual violence and what it means,” Flinn said.

That includes mandatory training sessions for all students, faculty, and staff. Reporting procedures are explained in the Title IX Resource guide, provided to every student and employee of the college.

Public Safety could not be reached to comment on the report for this article.


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