COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The number of rapes reported at Ohio State University’s main campus in Columbus climbed steadily in 2018, 2019 and 2020, according to university reports and campus crime logs.
In 2020, there were 134 rapes reported to either campus police or a Campus Security Authority (CSA), according to OSU’s federally required annual security report. In 2019, 118 people reported they had been raped, up from 93 in 2018. And in 2017 the number of people reporting rape was 72.
The total number of people reporting rape in those four years — 2017 to 2020 — was 417. Cases related to former Ohio State physician Dr. Richard Strauss, which was the subject of litigation, are excluded.
In 2021, students were off campus for part of the year due to COVID-19 but have returned to normal numbers this fall. Campus police logs through October show 66 rapes reported to OSUPD or a CSA, according to an NBC4 analysis. Forty-two of those rapes were reported as occurring this year.
- January: 5 rapes reported overall, 3 reported as happening in January
- February: 13 overall, 10 in February
- March: 12 overall, 6 in March and 1 from February
- April: 4 overall, none in April but 1 from January
- May: 3 overall, none in 2021
- June: 5 overall, 3 in June (one of which was a disabled person), and 1 from May
- July: 1 overall, none in 2021
- August: 3 overall, 2 in August
- September: 9 overall, 5 in September and 1 from April
- October: 11 overall, 9 in October
Campus crime logs: How to read them
The campus police logs tally all the rapes that people report to OSUPD either directly or through a CSA. Universities that get federal Title IV funding have to track this information and make it public under the Clery Act, which was signed in 1990 after Jeanne Clery was raped and murdered in her college dormitory.
The logs provide a picture of where and when people say the rape happened. People can report a rape that happened years ago, which was the case for at least 20 incidents reported this year.
Each report gives a location of the rape, even if that location is unknown. The Clery Act gives physical boundaries — called Clery Geography — to categorize where these reported rapes happen.
Rapes are categorized as On-Campus, On-Campus Student Housing, Public Property — which is all public property inside of campus or immediately adjacent and accessible from campus — and Noncampus Property. The latter refers to any building or property owned or controlled by a student organization that is officially recognized by the institution but is not connected to the core campus.
Ohio State also takes non-campus and public property statistics from county law enforcement, suburbs and the Columbus Division of Police, according to pages 60-61 of the university’s Clery report. Non-campus is where study abroad rapes are categorized, as well as school trips. In these categories there also may be reports of rapes in private residences and businesses separate from OSU.
Where are rapes happening at OSU?
Campus crime logs allow students, faculty, and families to see where rapes are happening in real time. You can also download campus crime logs from 2018 to 2020 to see where rapes and other crimes have been reported.
For example, rapes reported in February 2021 as having occurred in that month were:
- Canfield Hall, rape, reported to police on Feb. 7
- Unknown Campus Residence Hall, rape (three counts), reported to CSA on Feb. 5
- Siebert Hall, rape, reported to CSA on Feb. 12
- Unknown Campus Residence Hall, statutory rape, reported to CSA on Feb. 17
- Unknown Campus Residence Hall, rape, reported to CSA on Feb. 18
- 124 E. 14th Avenue (Phi Kappa Psi fraternity), rape, reported to CSA on Feb. 22
- Unknown Campus Location, rape, reported to CSA on Feb. 23
- Morrill Tower, rape (substantially impaired judgment), reported to police on Feb. 23
- Unknown Campus Location, rape, reported to CSA on Feb. 25, victim declined to make a report
- Siebert Hall, rape (threat of force), reported to police on Feb. 25
Three of the residence halls weren’t named by the reporters of the rapes. Two were other campus locations, which by the Clery Act definition means they were buildings or property owned or controlled by OSU.
Campus Security Authorities: Who can report a rape?
Not everyone feels comfortable sharing details with police about their rape or a friend’s rape, so there are other people on campus who can take those reports. The Clery Act defines who is a Campus Security Authority:
- Campus police department or a campus security department
- Individual who is responsible for campus security but isn’t in the police or campus security
- Individual or organization specified by the institution as one to which students and employees should report crime
- Official who has significant responsibility for student and campus activities, such as student housing, student discipline and campus judicial proceedings
OSU clarification of Clery Act geography and reporting
According to an Ohio State spokesperson: “In some circumstances, the university counts reports of sexual assault where the location is unknown as part of our on-campus statistics, even though those crimes may not have occurred on or near university property.
“The university counts incidents of sexual assault and misconduct that are shared anonymously on social media, provided that the content of the social media post is reported (not necessarily by the survivor) to a Campus Security Authority.
“Neither the Clery report nor the crime log differentiate between individuals affiliated with the university and those who are unaffiliated. Ohio State has a large, on-campus medical center and hosts numerous, public on-campus events. Approximately 3 million people visit campus each year. Crimes reported by medical center patients and other campus visitors are included in the online crime log and the Clery report.”
Ben Orner contributed data analysis for this story.
Rapes and Ohio State University
NBC4 ran a series of reports on rapes at Ohio State in November 2021:
If you or someone you know is in need of help, see the resources below: