Student Government meeting addresses the inaccurate reporting of university crime statistics and how the University Police Department can be held accountable for accuracy in their future data collection.
Sept. 30, Vice President of Finance and Support Services Eric Algoe, was a guest speaker at the meeting and discussed the Clery Act and the university’s misreporting of crime statistics in prior years.
“Some of you may have heard that we had issues with our prior year’s annual security reports,” Algoe said. “Over the past few years, the annual security reports that we have published and shared with the university community have not been compliant with the all of the requirements that the Clery Act places upon us.”
According to Algoe, the old Clery Act data said there were six reported rapes in 2016 and zero in 2017. The updated data reflects a staggering miscalculation of 21 reported rapes in 2016 and 15 in 2017, totaling in 30 previously unreported rapes.
“Obviously that’s pretty alarming to all of us to see that sort of increase,” Algoe said. “We have done extensive benchmarking in terms of looking around at other universities around the country to figure out- what does this data mean? Because the increase in and of itself is alarming. What we found is that sadly our numbers are about average to other universities our size.”
Algoe also shared the updated drug violation data with Student Government, which previously reported 104 cases in 2016 and 103 in 2017. The updated data of reported drug violations is 172 cases in 2016 and 403 in 2017, meaning 368 drug violations that took place on campus were previously unaccounted for in former publications of data. According to Algoe, the new data for 2017 drug violations is higher than the average for universities the size of Texas State.
According to Algoe, the misreporting can be attributed to their use of a software that didn’t count arrests correctly, the former UPD Police Chief’s inexperience with the Clery Act, miscommunication among campus security reports and not separating crime statistics between the San Marcos and Round Rock campuses.
In order to try to report accurate crime statistics in the future, UPD Chief Clouse created a Clery Compliance comity that meets monthly. Texas State also joined the Clery Center and retained the services of a national consulting agency to review the data before it is published.
The new annual security report was published on Sept. 30 and contains the crimes reported to the university or UPD in 2018. According to Algoe, there were 19 rapes and 172 drug violations reported in the 2018 crime statistics.
Guest speaker and State Representative Erin Zwiener gave Student Government a legislative update on the last session of the Texas House of Representatives, informing senators that some of their main focuses was public education, sexual assault and freedom of speech on college campuses.
During his report, Student Body Vice President Tucker Thompson provided an update on the free menstrual hygiene products that will be delivered to nine buildings on campus this week.
Student Body President Corey Benbow addressed tabling the confirmation of Andrew Florence as director of freshman leadership during last week’s meeting, due to an investigation into inappropriate GroupMe messages he shared within the freshman leadership group.
President Benbow met with Student Involvement over the issue with Andrew Florence and determined that Florence didn’t have bad intentions in the GroupMe messages. Benbow upholds Florence’s nomination for the Freshman Leadership position. Later in the meeting, Andrew Florence was confirmed as the director of freshman leadership.
The resolution calling for the “Support of a Permanent Space for Bobcat Bounty in the LBJ Student Center” endorses the allocation of existing or future space in the LBJ Student Center for the Bobcat Bounty Program and other food insecurity resources. The Bobcat Bounty initiative will provide food lockers stocked with non-perishable items free for students to access. The resolution was voted on by student senators and passed unanimously.
Student Senator Cody DeSalvo introduced the resolution requesting that UPD release all of their incident data since 2016, in response to the recent inaccurate crime statistics found on previous Clery reports.
The requested data would include information similar to the 60-day Crime and Fire Log currently accessible on UPD’s website from 2016 to present. Student Government passed the legislation and would like to analyze this data to determine how to make the campus safer.
The implementation of an independent Police Advisory Council is being proposed to compel university administration to establish the council in order to “provide authentic community engagement, policy review, informal complaint analysis and research through data transparency.”
Student Government meetings are held every Monday at 7 p.m. in the LBJ Teaching Theater and are open to the public. More information on their meeting agendas and how to get involved with Student Government can be found on their website.