By Alexis Schulz
After the university worked to increase security enforcement and added new emphasis on violence education, Rider’s 2013 Clery report showed heightened numbers of burglaries and drug arrests on campus.
The university is working to collaborate with residence staff and Public Safety to enforce the “no tolerance” drug policy, according to Kristine Brown, director of media relations. More training has been held and awareness has been raised about the policy to detect drug use, leading to increased detection of those who are violating the policy, and a rise in the numbers of arrests.
Drug arrests increased from four in 2012 to 23 in 2013. According to Vickie Weaver, director of Public Safety, Rider does not tolerate any use or possession of illegal substances on either campus. Revised procedures have heightened student accountability.
“The increased number of drug-related arrests at Lawrenceville in 2013 reflects both an increased use of marijuana among students and, for the second half of the year, revised procedures and strengthened collaboration between residential programs and Public Safety in responding to such incidents and holding students accountable,” said Weaver.
According to Anthony Campbell, dean of students, Rider is working to identify drug violations and protect those who could be harmed.
“The main thing is that drugs are illegal, and people who violate the policy are putting other students at risk,” he said.
The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (Clery report) requires all college campuses and universities to disclose information about crime on or near campuses annually. The law was named for Jeanne Clery, a Lehigh University freshman, who was raped and murdered in her dorm in 1986. Compliance with the act is monitored, and if a college or university fails to report crime statistics it faces $35,000 in fines.
The number of burglaries on campus was also up from 19 in 2012 to 22 in 2013. Weaver said this number has been consistent over the past three years and is because students are too lenient with their property.
“Unfortunately, many burglaries occur in residence halls when students leave their rooms unsecured for a period of time,” she said. “Public Safety and residential programs use each incident as another opportunity to educate students about the need to lock their doors regularly, among other preventive steps. We also educate students through new student orientation, residential and other programming.”
The report also showed that rape cases have decreased from three in 2012 to two in 2013, and even more significantly from 2011 when eight cases were reported. Rider has begun to take sexual assault and other related crimes very seriously, according to Weaver. Rider’s anti-harassment and non-discrimination policy is becoming a pact of learning and mutual respect among students.
“We continue to be vigilant in enforcing our anti-harassment and non-discrimination policy, which deals with allegations of sexual violence, harassment and discrimination,” said Weaver. “In addition, we offer a variety of educational programs and services that encourage students to make informed, responsible and healthy decisions, and encourage them to come forward when they are victims of sexual assault.”
The decrease in rape cases is a step forward for the university. Awareness of sexual assault is increasing around the country with the start of many educational programs against violence, and President Barack Obama’s “It’s On Us” campaign to decrease the number of assaults on college campuses. Weaver said Rider is committed to teaching students about sexual assault because it affects the entire campus community.
“This is an ongoing process that begins with new student orientation and continues throughout each academic year,” she said. “We also address this issue in Public Safety, residence and Greek life training every year, making students more likely to come forward.”
One sophomore accounting major, who wished to remain anonymous, said she was not surprised at the increased numbers.
“I’ve heard of a lot more drug use around campus,” she said. “Behind where I live there are always people doing those type of things. It puts me on edge because they could end up harming others.”
Criminal offenses at Rider’s Princeton campus were significantly less than at the Lawrenceville campus, according to the report. Weaver said it is hard to draw parallels between the two campuses, however.
“The size of the residential student population on both campuses makes it difficult to compare the number of offenses that occur on each campus,” she said. “The number of resident students at Lawrenceville is more than 10 times that of Westminster.”
For the first time this year, Rider was required to provide statistics on three new categories: dating violence, domestic violence and stalking. The inclusion of these points reflects the increasing awareness of sexual assault nationwide.
“The number of reported rapes has remained steady across the past three years when you take into account the 2011 and 2012 number of reports made in each of those years for offenses that occurred in previous years,” said Weaver.
By Alexis Schulz