Saturday, October 10, 2009

Sexual violence on college campuses is a serious problem... why lie about it?

Under the Clery Act the Campus Violence Prevention Program of University of California*, Davis, reported 48, 68 and 69 forcible sex offenses in 2005, 2006 and 2007, respectively. However due to concerns raised by a member of the staff in April of this year the values were reviewed and it has been determined that the number of reports was artificially increased by a little more than double their original numbers of 21,23, and 33 respectively. It appears that they were falsified by the Campus Violence Prevention Program's (thankfully former, she retired in June of this year) director Jennifer Beeman.

What kind of damage has this caused? Well consider that UC Davis receives the largest share (other schools in the UC system receive portions of it as well) of an almost $1 million dollar grant from the Justice Department that is meant to provide services for victims and to maintain a statewide response to violence on all UC campuses. This means that funds could have been going to UC Davis based on it "high number" of reports when that money could have much better spent going to other places whose numbers might not be as high but are at least real. And it looks like former director Beeman might have been putting some of those ill gotten funds into her pocket.

UC states that Beeman was the one and only person responsible for reviewing cases and reporting statistics. A second person was not involved to verify the data because of get this, the director's concern about privacy laws that require confidentiality for the identities of clients who report cases. Now I'm all for confidentiality but for one person in a program to have all the responsibility for verifying and reporting statistics? On data that may have an effect on how much funding that program receives no less. Thankfully UC Davis has created a new panel to review future statistic which will consist of That panel will include a uniformed command officer from the UC Davis Police Department, a Clery Act specialist from the Office of Student Judicial Affairs and an attorney from the Office of Campus Counsel (hey multiple people, imagine that).

Now this is not good obviously. We all know that sexual violence is a serious problem on college campuses and apparently Jennifer Beeman saw an opportunity to profit from it. In order to stop and prevent it the flow of data, statistics, and reporting must remain true or else you end up with people going around reporting false data. This could lead to other places not getting what they need and also contribute to unnecessary hysteria among the student body.

Tip of the Fro to Robert Franklin.

* - UC Davis’ Campus Violence Prevention Program provides victims of sexual assault, stalking and domestic violence the opportunity to report in confidence and be connected to health care and other support services without necessarily filing a police report.