The IU Police Department has been implementing a policy that does not publish specific locations of sexual assaults in its daily crime log since at least March 2019, IUPD Chief Jill Lees said. This policy leaves some IU students with concerns about how to protect themselves. IUNewsNet first reported the IUPD policy in their Sept. 30 report.
The descriptions given regarding location on the IU Daily Crime Log consist of “all other campus buildings”, “on campus residential” and “all other fraternity/soro.”
“This is not a new policy,” Lees said in an Indiana Daily Student article. “This is something that is very common practice at other universities and municipalities to protect the survivor coming forward to make a report.”
Although this policy has been controversial, Dr. Zoe Peterson, Director of the Kinsey Institute Sexual Assault Research Initiative, said she does not believe knowledge of the location where assaults occur is necessary to protect IU’s campus.
“I think that the policy is an important change to help victims and assist in victims feeling comfortable coming forward,” Peterson said. “What’s best for the entire IU community is for victims to feel safe and comfortable to report.”
Debra Morrow, executive director of the Middle Way House in Bloomington, shared her concerns about the controversial policy as well.
Morrow said she could understand the dangers of publishing locations where assaults took place. She speculated if an assault happened one night, and a report went out the next including the location, it could be easy for people to recognize who the victim is. Morrow suggested that IUPD release the assault location information monthly.
“That way, there is at least some accountability to the locations or groups involved.”
“When we keep it hidden and quiet, it’s almost like they are giving permission for this to happen,” Morrow said. “It is possibly protecting the survivors, but there are other solutions that do not result in a complete lack of information.”
A new organization, Hoosiers Against Sexual Assault, was formed Oct. 3 as a result of the controversial IUPD protocol. Five IU students created the organization: Molly Ross, Grace Sarrazin, Grace Young, Aanya Jain and Samantha Barber.
“We started talking about IUPD’s new policy and it, obviously, was very angering to us,” Sarrazin said. “Hoosiers Against Sexual Assault came to be when we realized the problem is a lot bigger than IUPD’s policy.”
Hoosiers Against Sexual Assault has created a petition to end IUPD’s policy, which now has almost 10,000 signatures, and is currently organizing a protest in support of sexual assault victims everywhere.
“I feel as though with this policy being released, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that sexual assault is becoming a norm on campus,” Sarrazin said. “No one should feel safe if this is the case.”
This semester alone, there have been nine sexual battery cases and 15 sexual assault cases reported, according to the IUPD crime log. For comparison, according to the 2021 Annual Security and Fire Safety Report, there were a total of 22 reported sexual assaults in the entirety of 2020.
“I avoid fraternities as much as possible because I know so many who have been put in very uncomfortable and negative situations in frat houses,” Barber said. “It feels almost like walking on a minefield. You never know when a situation has the possibility for escalation.”
All IU sororities boycotted traditional Saturday fraternity parties Sept. 25 due to an increase in sexual assault reports.