People out late in New York City often worry about being mugged. But for night owls at Ohio University’s main campus in Athens, robbery is not what should be of concern — sexual assault is.
According to the 2011 Clery Act Compliance Report, released annually by the Ohio University Police Department, there has been just one robbery a year from 2008-2010. Over that same span, there have been 33 reported forcible sex offenses: nine in both 2008 and 2009, and 15 in 2010.
The OUPD describes a forcible sex offense as “any sexual act directed against another person, forcible and/or against the person’s will; or not forcible or against the person’s will where the victim is incapable of giving consent.” There are four types of such offenses: forcible rape, forcible sodomy, sexual assault with an object and forcible fondling.
Megan Lippe, an Ohio University senior, was a bit surprised that the number of robberies in recent years has been so low. She was not surprised in the least, however, when hearing of the exact number of forcible sex offenses.
“I think it is extremely sad and scary that the number of offenses is so high, but knowing that Ohio University is a college campus, it kind of makes sense,” said Lippe, who deliberately avoids walking alone at night. “Many sex offenses are the result of alcohol, which is definitely present on a college campus.”
Lippe is certainly right about the presence of alcohol at Ohio University, the Princeton Review’s No. 1 party school in the nation. According to the Clery Report, in 2008 there were 155 liquor arrests; there were 235 in 2009 and 238 in 2010.
But that’s not an excuse for an inordinate number of forcible sex offenses, said Rebecca McKinsey, an Ohio University junior. She conceded that people under the influence are more likely to misbehave, but all that means is one must take extra care to avoid troublesome situations.
“I don’t know if there’s much the university can do,” McKinsey said. “OU can’t ban alcohol. It can try to tell people to be careful and warn them of the risks, but people are only going to listen to warnings like that so much. … Every time I go out, or go to a party, I keep in the back of my mind that I have to take care of myself and make responsible decisions for myself, because I can’t control anyone else’s actions, and neither can the university.”