By Abigail Dye
April 23, 2018
On-campus rape in Illinois is on the rise according to multiple Annual Safety and Security Reports. In 2014, there was a total of six rapes reported at the University of Chicago (UC). In 2016, a total of 15 rapes were reported. This means that the reported rapes at UC grew 150 percent in two years. 13 of the 15 rapes reported in 2016 (86 percent) took place in university residence halls. Unfortunately, these rising rape reports are not uncommon for colleges in Illinois. In 2014, Northwestern University (NWU) reported a total of four rapes, three of which took place in campus residence halls. In 2016, 15 rapes were reported by NWU, 11 of which took place in residence halls. This means that in a two-year period, rape reports increased 275 percent at NWU. In 2016, 73 percent of the rapes that occurred at NWU took place in campus residence halls.
Illinois Wesleyan University (IWU) has seen an increase in reported forcible sex offenses (rape/fondling) between 2014 and 2016 as well. In 2014, there were four reported forcible sex offenses, one of which took place in a residence facility. In 2016, seven forcible sex offenses were reported. This means that forcible sexual offenses reported increased 75 percent in a two year period. In 2016, 100 percent (all seven) of the forcible sexual offenses reported took place in the residence facilities of IWU. Northern Illinois University (NIU) is yet another college that sadly fits this norm. The Annual Safety and Security Report shows no data on reported rapes for 2014. In 2015, there are 14 rapes, eight of which happened in residence halls.
In 2016, 16 rapes were reported with seven of those rapes having taken place in residence halls. Over the course of one year, reported rapes increased by 14.3 percent at NIU. While this percentage increase is less than the other universities, NIU has the highest number of rapes in 2016 out of the four universities studied. 44 percent of the rapes that occurred in 2016 took place in residence halls.
Between these four Illinois universities, reported forcible sexual assault/rape has increased an average of 128.5 percent over a two-year period. Between these four universities, an average of 75 percent of the reported forcible sexual assault/rape in 2016 took place in residence halls. An extremely high number of first-year students live in those residence halls.
While all four of these universities claim that safety is a priority, the steady rise in reported rapes tells a different story that raises red flags as well as questions. Why are reported rates rising? How are we going to fix it? These are the questions that we need to address and bring to the table for discussion. Sexual assault and rape have always been issues that are swept under the rug rather than confronted – especially at universities. High and increasing rates of rape on-campus could possibly lead to lower rates of incoming freshmen and other enrollment issues. Illinois does not stand alone when it comes to rising rape reports. Universities all over the country are seeing a steady incline in the percentage of reported rape – but they sure won’t mention it at orientation. The logical first step to lowering the soaring number of rape reports, is to shed light on the problem.
The Me Too movement has given victims of sexual assault and harassment a strong voice, and is a perfect example of shedding light on the problem. The Me Too movement has grown to encourage millions of men and women of all colors and ages to speak out about sexual assault/harassment so that the public can see the magnitude of this problem.
Universities claiming that campuses are safe despite the numbers will only worsen the matter. Brushing rape and sexual assault under the rug may have worked before, but now that victims and students are finding their voices – ignoring this issue is no longer an option. High rape rates being the norm is not okay. Victims being ignored is not okay. Not admitting there is a problem is not okay. It is time for universities to face the facts about rape on-campus and take action before more students become victims.