Numbers don’t keep me safe


Graphic courtesy of Amber Chin/The Paisano

Alejandro Lopez

     Eighty-four percent of non–victims and 74 percent of victims of sexual assault reported feeling safe at UTSA, but they aren’t necessarily safe. Just because a sexual assault incident does not get reported, does not mean it’s not happening. 

     In spring of 2017, UTSA, along with 12 other UT System Institutions, participated in the Cultivating Learning and Safe Environments (CLASE) survey. The survey examined the prevalence, perception and experiences regarding sexual assault and misconduct. The reported numbers tell one story–sexual assault is still happening in higher education institutions. Those numbers represent real people. 

      The 2017 UTSA Police Department’s annual crime report listed only six reported rapes. While the low number of rapes might bring some relief to students and parents, it shouldn’t. The report is trying to assure parents that their child is safe on campus because only six rapes were reported. Until that number is zero, parents and students should still worry.

     Some may argue that the low statistics indicate that UTSA is safe, but they forget that rape is highly unreported. For instance, the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) reports only 20 percent of female student victims, ages 18-24, report assault incidents to law enforcement. So what about to the other 80 percent who don’t report assault incidents to law enforcement? Their stories do not get told or reported. The conclusion may be that sexual assault is not a significant problem that our campus community need not be concerned. Wrong.

     Minimizing the problem enables abusers and further marginalizes the victimized. Victims deserve nothing less than the total support of the UTSA community.

     Out of 3,000 UTSA students who participated in the CLASE survey, 75 percent said they did not report sexual assault incidents. It’s not easy to share their traumatic experiences with the world. No one understands the pain and trauma victims are put through unless they experience it for themselves. 

     Statistics do not tell the whole story. Sexual assault is still occurring on this campus and it should not be minimalized. Period.