Hannah Lentz



By: Hannah Lentz 

[email protected]

After months of collaboration and deliberation between more than 50 departments across campus, the Annual Security and Fire Safety Report is now available to the public.

In order to comply with the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Crime Statistics Act and the Higher Education Opportunity Act, a comprehensive look at campus security and safety resources, protocols, policies and procedures is required to be released to students, faculty and community members, as well as administrators.

Brandon DeHaan, captain of the Grand Valley State University Police Department works as the Clery compliance officer at GVSU.

“We’ve reformatted how the annual report is put together to make it easier to read document and we’ve changed our table of contents in an attempt to make this an easier document to digest,” DeHaan said. 

One of the larger sections within the document focuses specifically on sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking. With an increase of reports of sexual assault on GVSU’s campus, explanation and education was an important theme for this year’s report. 

“We’ve broken the areas on sexual assault down as well because we know that there are often questions that are identified with this and we wanted to make it easier for individuals to find information in the annual report,” DeHaan said. 

This year’s report captured the hike in reported sexual assaults of GVSU students. Compared to the seven incidents reported in 2014, there were 15 cases reported in 2015. It should be noted, however, that five of the incidents reported in 2015 actually occurred in  2014 DeHaan said. 

These cases are not identified as either “opened” or “closed” but rather reflect all reports of sexual violence to any representative for student safety including officers, responsible employees or representatives from the Women’s Center. 

Don’t identify whether open or closed. They are reported cases and they aren’t necessarily reported to the police. Responsible employee or a campus security authority or the police and the victim survivor does not wish for an investigation (we will honor their request).

Though this hike is a matter of concern, it also reflects the work of the university to create an open and safe environment for students to report acts of violence so that campus security can take the acceptable measures to hold individuals responsible DeHaan said. 

“This highlights the work that the university has done to encourage individuals to report these offenses,” DeHaan said. “We know that sexual assaults are the most underreported of all criminal activities. In discussion with my colleagues here on the campus, we don’t believe that there has been an increase in the number of sexual assaults but rather, the environment has changed.”

The university has put a heavy focus on the paradigm that surrounds sexual assault through programs such as the It’s On Us campaign and the creation of several positions on campus that cater to students needs following acts of violence DeHaan said. 

“The commitment that the university has had to change the preconceived notions surrounding sexual assault is very evident,” DeHaan said.  “It goes along with education of the community and creating a safe environment for individuals to report.”

There’s also statistical information that goes specifically goes the last three years for crime statistics. 

This year, DeHaan worked with the Title IX office to include new procedures for sexual misconduct in the report. There’s an excerpt of these procedures in the document as well as additional information that is available online on the Victim’s Rights and Options page. The page gives a detailed description of what an advocate is, what an advocate does and how to reach a representative advocate. One of the features of this page that will have the most impact is the frequently asked questions section, DeHaan said.

“We have worked very hard and diligently to create an environment where people feel comfortable reporting incidents of violence and that the university is working hard to help educate and knowing that education and awareness can be helpful in changing the stigma surrounding sexual assault,” DeHaan said. 

Liquor law arrests also decreased from 200 arrests to only 88 this year, a number that may be able to be attributed to the addition of several new officers to the force during times when these offenses are most prevalent.