COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The number of rapes reported each year on Ohio State University’s campus is on the rise.

When NBC4 Investigates spoke to survivor Maeve Walsh, she said: “I think education is one of the most important things that Ohio State should improve — and needs to improve — in order to prevent sexual violence.”

OSU leadership agrees and showed NBC4 Investigates Jamie Ostroff how the university is expanding that education.

Cassie Shaffer, an OSU police detective, has been teaching the Rape Aggression Defense Class on campus for ten years. She estimates she’s taught her techniques to thousands of women during that time, including Caitlin McLuckie, who took the class as a student and again, as an alumna.

“It just gave me the confidence to speak up,” said McLuckie. “I think as women a lot of the time, we’re taught to not make somebody else feel uncomfortable, but this gave me permission to speak up for myself and my friends.”

McLuckie has, for years, encouraged others to take the RAD class, which is free to girls and women ages 14 and over. Lately, more people are signing up.

“We’ve had such high demand for this, that we actually are wait-listing folks at this point,” said Shaffer. She hopes to add more classes next semester to accommodate that demand.

It’s a demand that’s risen along with the number of rapes reported on OSU’s campus. Rape reports increased at OSU almost 27 (26.8) percent from 2018 to 2019. And 13.5 (13.56) percent from 2019 to 2020. according to the annual security report, which every U.S. college and university is required to release each year.

Molly Peirano, director of Education and Engagement at OSU’s Office of Institutional Equity, believes the growing numbers come from more reports, not more rapes.

“We want to increase that reporting so that we can get people the support they deserve, and so we also want to have accurate information so we know what trends are there, and also apply those trends to our education so that we can have better prevention,” said Peirano.

The Office of Institutional Equity was created in 2019 to do just that. Since then, the university has streamlined resources for rape survivors on the OSU app and taken stock of the educational tools that are available for every member of the campus community.

“So we do know that we need to up our education,” said Peirano. “How can we equip our students, faculty, and staff to be good upstanders; so if you see something you know is wrong, how can you actually help your fellow Buckeye? And then of course, if it does happen to someone where they experience sexual violence, how can we get them connected with resources?”

Right now, all OSU students are required to attend a consent seminar through the Student Wellness Center, plus complete a yearly online course about sexual violence. All faculty and staff must also take an online course each year about reporting sexual misconduct.

NBC 4’s Jamie Ostroff asked Peirano: “How do you send that message, that rape is not acceptable at Ohio State University?”

“Yeah, I mean, I think it’s just that,” said Peirano. “What you said, letting people know that we have expectations. We frame it as every person who comes here deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.”

Peirano said her office is constantly coming up with new ways to educate the community about sexual misconduct. Just last month, OSU hosted #metoo week — several days of events dedicated to education and advocacy.

She also meets with leadership at fraternities and sororities to talk about holding their peers accountable.

Tomorrow on NBC4 at 11 p.m., Ostroff will dig deeper into the process of accountability, and why survivors of sexual violence say that it can prolong the pain.

Rapes and Ohio State University

NBC4 ran a series of reports on rapes at Ohio State the week of Nov. 29, 2021: