Opinions Uncategorized

Crime Reporting at SLU: What Can We Know, and How?

By [Emily Liebelt ’16] [Opinions Editor]

In response to questions concerning the security blotter and reporting of sexual assault on campus.

The main purpose of the Security Blotter is amusement. We chuckle over public urination and reefer madness while scarfing down our eggs benedict. What seems to be missing, as several students have brought to attention, are instances of sexual assault. Perhaps there haven’t been any to report? Or have they been purposefully omitted from the list? I recently met with Pat Gagnon, director of Safety & Security, to discuss these questions. His office is inviting, with a whimsical display of confiscated paraphernalia and indoor plants, and he himself is friendly and eager to help. He reminded me of a lot of information I forgot since that day during freshman orientation when he got on stage and told the new Saints, well, how to be saints. I’m sure I’m not the only one who might have been too distracted to remember the significance of the Clery Act, or the protocols in place for reporting and dealing with crime on campus.

Sexual assaults have been kept from the Security Blotter section of The Hill in order to protect the privacy of victims and the accused as to not diminish these crimes by listing them alongside traffic cone theft and minor disturbances. Other serious offences are not included for the same reasons. In my opinion, it is better to report on overall trends and noteworthy events on campus than individual, more personal, cases. Examples of this would be efforts made to reduce violence, consideration of campus’s social atmosphere, and reasons why bad things happen. Just because they aren’t in the paper does not at all mean they are hidden from the public eye.

The information on sexual assault involving SLU students, as per the Clery Act, is made easily available through the Safety and Security’s website or by appointment in their offices. Every reported crime is documented with date, location, and other pertinent information. Anyone who looks up this report will find everything they need to know, excluding the personal information of those involved. I got my hands on the most up-to-date report from Mr. Gagnon and noticed a few things. SLU’s sexual assault stats are higher on paper than those of other colleges in the area. This is not because there are more occurring, but because there are more being properly reported and dealt with by the school and the Safety and Security department. The difference between the actual number of sexual assaults and the number of cases reported may be small thanks to resources like SLU Advocates, DUB Club, Community Assistants, and an overall safe and supportive campus.

SLU should be aware that both The Hill News and Security are nothing if not completely transparent when it comes to accurate information. It’s truly great to know that there are students who are concerned about honest reporting, and that there are recourses and organizations in place that uphold that.


About the author

Emily Liebelt