November 17, 2019

Report reveals stalking increase

The most recent instance of stalking on campus reported in the university crime log occurred on Feb. 2, 2019, but was not reported until Oct. 2.

Webster University’s Department of Public Safety released the Annual Security and Fire Safety Report for the 2018 calendar year. The packet provides the numbers of reported crimes on campuses, including stalking, rape and assault. The number of reported on-campus stalking incidents more than doubled, rising from six reported instances in 2017 to 15 in 2018.

The Annual Security and Fire Safety Report showed that on-campus stalking incidents more than doubled from 2017 to 2018.

Eleven cases of stalking were reported in 2016. From the cases, two occurred on campus housing both in 2017 and 2018, in contrast to seven happening on campus housing during 2016.  

The report acts in accordance with the Clery Act– a federal law requiring all colleges and universities receiving federal funding to publish a public security report. 

According to Webster’s report, the university defines stalking as, “Engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to: Fear for her, his, or others’ safety, suffer substantial emotional distress.” 

The definition continues to describe the conditions for stalking, including that the “course of conduct” must refer to two or more acts that threaten, monitor or follow another person and causes emotional distress.

The most recent instance of stalking on campus reported in the university crime log occurred on Feb. 2, 2019, but was not reported until Oct. 2.

Director of University Public Relations Patrick Giblin said Director of Public Safety Rick Gerger would not speak out about the Clery Report, and the university and its officials would not make an extended statement. 

“The University will not discuss details about any specific reports in order to protect the confidentiality of both the reporting and responding parties,” Giblin said. 

Interim Head of Webster University’s Title IX Office Kimberley Pert cancelled a meeting with The Journal and never responded to attempts to reschedule. 

Webster Groves Police Department Public Information Officer Lt. Andy Miller said the station has only received one investigative report of stalking since the beginning of 2017. The report, he said, did not have any connection to the university. 

Miller said the city statistics cannot be compared to the Clery Report because the university counts all reported incidents, no matter their outcome. He said the university averaged at 10.67 reported instances of stalking over the past three years.

“To attempt to ‘guess’ why one year varied up or down from that average would be somewhat subjective,” Miller said.

Local school, Maryville University, did not see such increases this year. 

According to the Maryville Annual Security and Fire Safety Report, the university had one reported instance in 2018, zero in 2017 and one in 2016, all occurring on campus. The university describes “stalking” in terms of Missouri law. 

The Webster report specifies that the Department of Public Safety compiles the information in conjunction with other university administrative departments, such as Student Affairs, Housing and Residential Life, Human Resources and Title IX. 

Giblin said if students felt unsafe, they should report their concerns. The office number is (314)-246-7430, and the emergency line is (314)-246-6911.

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