Between 2016 and 2018, the number of “sex offense — rape cases” reported on the Tampa campus more than quadrupled, from four to 17, according to the 2019 Annual Security & Fire Safety Report.
The University Police Department (UP) said campus resources and the “me too.” movement — a media campaign that encourages survivors to speak up about sexual violence — helped raise awareness and contribute to the comfort level in reporting offenses.
USF Chief of Police Chris Daniel said not all the reports go through UP.
“[Some reports] may go to other amenities such as the Title IX Office or Victim Advocacy, those don’t go to the police,” Daniel said. “Crimes and cases reported to other departments are not accounted for in the Annual Security and Fire Safety Report.”
The report also shows a noticeable increase in dating violence on campus between 2016 and 2017 as the number of cases reported increased from three to 13.
“All we know is that maybe through the ‘me too.’ initiative and so forth, people had a greater comfort level, or other mechanisms created for them to come forward so we are seeing campuswide a higher reporting figure but not necessarily those coming to the police,” Daniel said.
Burglary cases and domestic violence cases, both residential and on-campus, decreased in crime reports over the last three years.
“I think that the marketing by the university for these various entities, and letting students know that these outlets exist, creates a safer zone for people to go in with a little more of a discrete atmosphere than the police department to discuss these things,” Daniel said.
UP offers a rape aggression defense class that can be taken by students for credit or as a community course for those wanting to learn self-defense moves.
“I encourage students to always make themselves aware, not only of their environment wherever they are, but to make themselves aware of some of the services that the university does provide and to take advantage of those opportunities,” Daniel said.
UP sponsors the new “USF SAFE” app, a free mobile app that provides quick access to on- and off-campus emergency numbers, safety resources such as blue light phone locations and the USF Bulletin Board for information around USF.
“Anytime your instincts tell you something doesn’t feel right, there’s a reason for that and try to change your environment,” Daniel said.