DAVIS -- The University of California, Davis releases an extensive report every year detailing all crimes reported on campus. The spike in this year’s rape statistics came as a surprise to students and even campus police.
Safety is a constant concern for UC Davis freshman Rebekah Friedman.
“Definitely as a college student my parents are always like, ‘Make sure you stay safe.’ And they’re always checking up on me,” she told FOX40.
Even more so now after learning the number of reported rapes on campus doubled from 2017 to 2018.
“It’s a little scary, especially as a young female,” Friedman said.
UC Davis released new statistics in its “Annual Security and Fire Safety Report,” showing the number of rapes rose from seven reports in 2017 to 14 in 2018.
“I was surprised a little bit and then I was concerned, obviously, that we had any students that were victims of rape,” said UC Davis Police Capt. Mark Brunet.
But Brunet does not believe the increase in rape cases reflects a more dangerous campus. Rather, he thinks victims are just more comfortable coming forward.
“I think in the past it was more taboo in the sense of reporting, so it didn’t get reported as often. Now, it gets reported more frequently,” he said.
He pointed to social movements, like #MeToo and the Women’s March, making young women more aware of what constitutes rape and why it’s important to speak out.
Last year, victims reported five of the cases to police while the other nine reports came to advocacy groups.
“In all instances in the last couple of years, the victims knew their assailant. So really, what we say as a precaution is really make sure you know the people you are going on dates with,” Brunet said. “You’re in a public place and you practice certain elements of safety. Certainly, you don’t want to be inebriated or intoxicated. You want to be able to defend yourself.”
It’s advice he said he wishes he didn’t have to give to young people who should feel safe on their own campus.
“Help to be your brother or sister’s keeper. So if you see something that looks unusual or you see someone that might be taking a girl that looks like she's out of it, that we challenge that. That we don’t allow those kinds of things to exist in our community,” he said.
UC Davis has counseling and free advocacy resources for any students who have been sexually assaulted or harassed.