Kent State offers helpful resources after Annual Security Report

Madison MacArthur

In 2016, Kent State saw an increase in sexual assault and stalking reports on campus, in addition to seeing a decrease in domestic violence reports from 2015, according to Kent State’s Annual Security Reports. 

The increases were attributed to students speaking up and seeking help combined with university efforts to raise awareness about reporting incidents.

“I think that actually, although the numbers on paper have gone up, I think (the number of) sexual assault survivors has probably stayed the same” said Tricia Knoles, the community resource officer for Kent State Police Department. “We just didn’t know about them. … Beforehand, when they thought that their only option was to come to the police department, a lot of the survivors weren’t very forthcoming.”

Kent State’s Annual Security Report, which is mandated nationwide by all universities, was released Sept. 30. It reported that in 2016, there were 12 reports of domestic and dating violence, a 42 percent decrease, and 11 reports of stalking, a 55 percent increase. These changes are in comparison to the 2015 data.

In the report, sexual offenses encompass forcible and non-forcible situations in different settings, some in residence halls. Offenses include rape, fondling, statutory rape and incest. Forcible rape tripled in 2016, increasing from six to 18 reported cases. Forcible rape in residence halls also tripled; there were 15 reports in 2016.

Departments on campus improved their education and outreach to the student population over the past year.

“We have Sexual and Relationship Violence Support Services, Title IX, and they’re really putting it out there and educating people that you don’t necessarily need to make a police report,” Knoles said. “You can go and talk to one of them.”

Increased education is apparent within the “First Year Experience” course through the recent initiative, Think About It. The initiative is a two-hour experience that shares information and accounts on aspects of college life, such as sex, smart partying, sexual violence and healthy relationships. It is now required for FYE as of August 2017.


Sexual Assault

As defined by the Department of Justice, sexual assault is “any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient.” It includes sexual activities as forced sexual intercourse, forcible sodomy, child molestation, incest, fondling and attempted rape.

Domestic Violence

As defined by the Department of Justice, domestic violence is “a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner.” It consists of physical, sexual, emotional, economic or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person.


As defined by the Department of Justice, stalking is “a pattern of repeated and unwanted attention, harassment, contact or any other course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear.”

Jasmyn Robinson, a freshman psychology major, praises the experience.

“There are kids who aren’t exposed to that coming to campus,” Robinson said. “I think it was eye-opening to individuals who aren’t aware.”

Jennifer O’Connell, the director of SRVSS, said awareness plays a role in the understanding of services such as Green Dot.

Green Dot is a community initiative that creates “agents of change” in order to reduce the number of violent acts on campus.

“As more Green Dot workshops are done, and more students are reached through them and by word of mouth, they are getting the support they need,” O’Connell said.

The Green Dot workshops and its over 60 facilitators give bystander training so when people witness a situation, they can be prepared for how to react.

It is through the awareness of SRVSS and its services that O’Connell gives credit for the increase in statistics.

“We’ve seen the numbers of students who come in going up, and by policy it must be reported,” O’Connell said. “We have an average of 47 percent of survivors seeking support through SRVSS. It’s not happening more, but more students are willing to speak out.”

Knoles agrees with the numbers, noting the amount of criminally investigated cases remained the same.

The real difference comes from the numbers reported through the Office of SRVSS, where they are kept anonymous and instead referred to by their locations.

O’Connell said this helped increase the reports at SRVSS, but doesn’t prevent survivors of sexual assault, stalking and domestic violence from going to the police.

“(Stalking reports) would be on a case-by-case basis depending on what the situation was. Each report that comes in is fully investigated,” Knoles said.

Knoles said telephone harassment is a very common type of stalking. She said it usually takes just a phone call from an officer for the harassment to stop.

“If it goes beyond that — they’re following them to classes, they’re stalking them — then we will take the appropriate actions for that,” Knoles said.

The university has outreaches present through the Title IX office, such as the See It, State It, Stop It campaign, which promotes students not to ignore issues on campus.

“They started it as a kind of awareness campaign,” Knoles said. “The Green Dot (and) Be the One also contributed to a lot of awareness and (teaching) what to do. Those all came out between 2016 to 2017, so those were some large awareness initiatives that we didn’t have before.”

However, even as they continue to reach out, some students remain unaware. Taya Johnson, a sophomore psychology major, didn’t know about the safety report.

“I thought of my campus as pretty safe,” she said. “I wouldn’t have thought that (rape cases) would have tripled. It’s kind of worrying. Maybe sometimes professors have to talk about (sexual assault) in their classes. It (could) be a requirement at some point to talk about it during the semester.”

O’Connell maintains an optimistic outlook that while numbers will begin to climb, education and awareness of students will also increase.  

“When a student comes to us for support, they know that they’re not alone, and we can help put them on the path to healing,” O’Connell said. “That’s one positive to people coming forward. The act is of course negative, but coming forward and finding that support is a positive.”

O’Connell sees promise in the future even if the numbers disagree.

O’Connell said change isn’t going to occur overnight; research on the Green Dot program shows numbers will increase the first three years of being on campus, followed by about two to three years of a plateau before finally decreasing usually between the fifth and seventh years.

O’Connell believes in the process, and has a simple reminder to the survivors: They’re not going to be alone.

Madison MacArthur is the safety reporter. Contact her at [email protected]