From 2013 to 2015, the University of Connecticut reported having more sexual assaults in each year than the University of Massachusetts.
UConn had a total of 104 reported sexual assaults from 2013 to 2015, compared to 42 at UMass, according to data from the National Center for Education Statistics.
Former and current UConn students interviewed said the number of reported sexual assaults is high, in part, because the university encourages sexual assault victims to come forward.
“People look at the numbers as a bad thing when it isn’t,’’ said Julia Werth, a 2017 UConn graduate who served as editor-in-chief of the Daily Campus newspaper. “They should make it less intimidating” to report assaults.
Werth; Jacqueline Devine, a 2017 UConn graduate; and Schae Beaudoin, a current UConn student, all said they have felt safe at UConn and never had a problem in the residential halls.
“However, part of that peace of mind came from the fact that I knew there were many resources at my disposal such as the Blue Light System or campus security, which I knew was only a phone call away,” Devine said.
UConn and UMass have mandatory training sessions for freshman on preventing sexual assault and on the many resources available.
“Since many sexual assaults are linked to alcohol misuse, UMass Amherst has an extensive alcohol education program and all incoming students are required to complete online alcohol education,” said Daniel J. Fitzgibbons, a UMass spokesman. “Campus fraternities have also increased educational programs about alcohol and sexual assault.”?He said universities across the country are focused on the issue.
“As you know, sexual assault is a serious issue at colleges and universities across the country. UMass Amherst is committed to providing a safe living and learning environment for its students and other community members,” he said.
UConn spokeswoman Stephanie Reitz told the Washington Post in 2016 that the university “works very hard to cultivate a culture of forthrightness so this traditionally under-reported crime can be addressed and our students receive appropriate services and support.”
Deborah Redshaw, the Title IX Project Specialist at UConn, said there are many types of prevention efforts happening across the Storrs and regional campuses and at UConn Health.
Redshaw shared a lengthy report that detailed prevention efforts that UConn has taken and resources for students, including medical and counseling services, academic support, modifications to working and living situations and referrals to legal and advocacy services.
“UConn is committed to creating and maintaining a campus environment free from all forms of sexual assault, intimate partner violence and stalking,” the report said. “All reports are taken with the utmost seriousness. Retaliation against any person who makes a report is strictly prohibited.”
Carolyn Martinez is a student at High School In-The-Community, New Haven.