Students Not Alerted on All Instances of Sexual Assault

Natasha Roy
A NYU public safety car. There is some confusion around campus concerning public safety’s protocol for sexual assault notification.

On Feb. 15, NYU Vice President of Global Campus Safety Marlon Lynch sent an email to members of the NYU community, notifying them about an attempted sexual assault against a female victim near campus. While it was unspecified whether or not the victim was an NYU student, Lynch said in an email to WSN that the circumstances of most sexual misconduct incidents do not usually warrant an email to the entire NYU community.

Every crime, including instances of sexual assault and rape, is reported in NYU’s crime reports and statistics. However, students must seek out this information on their own — it is not directly told to them by the university. Lynch said that only under certain circumstances do all students receive an email.

We send a notification when the particular facts of an incident both put students on notice of a potentially continuing threat and would provide them with a list of measures they might employ to keep them safe,” Lynch said. “By way of examples, this standard may be met when the identity and whereabouts of an alleged assailant are entirely unknown or when a crime report reflects a rash or pattern of similar incidents.”

Lynch also said that in the mass emails, students are instructed on how to access support at the university in the case that they are victims of sexual assault.

University spokesperson Matt Nagel said that in cases of sexual assault, the university releases information to the NYU community to keep members safe and get help in solving crimes. He said that the campus community is notified if the university believes communication will help achieve these goals.  

“We look at each case carefully,” Nagel said. “In some instances, such as when we believe there is no ongoing threat to the community, we may not put out a community-wide notification.”

Nagel also pointed out that incidents of sexual misconduct, along with other crimes, are explained in the weekly crime log and NYU’s Annual Security Report.

In a joint statement to WSN, Gallatin senior and Students for Sexual Respect President Josy Jablons and first year Law student and SSR member Meghan Racklin said that to their knowledge, NYU alerts students about violent criminal activity that is reported to the Department of Public Safety — including instances of reported rape and sexual assault. However, they said that it is vital that victims be protected in any act of sexual violence.

“We strongly believe that reporting an instance of sexual assault is an extremely personal and individualized decision, and we want to ensure that survivors at NYU have a variety of options open to them in regards to how a student reports, and to whom,” Jablons and Racklin said in the statement. “That said, we do not believe NYU should send mass emails in instances of sexual assault that are not reported to Public Safety. Student survivors should have the option to report confidentially to counseling services, the health center and other avenues. We are concerned that the prospect of immediate mass notification will deter students from seeking the services and support they need in the immediate aftermath of an assault.”

They also said that they believe that increased efforts are necessary to create more transparency between the university and its students on Title IX violations. They believe NYU should take more steps beyond their current efforts of releasing public safety data, as reported incidents of rape and sexual assault only reflect a fraction of incidents that actually occur.

“As survivors and student activists dedicated to upholding NYU’s compliance with Title IX, we would like to see the university release aggregate, anonymized data on a semester-by-semester basis that details the number and type of administrative complaints currently under investigation or adjudication — how those cases were resolved and what sanctions were imposed, if any,” Jablons and Racklin said. “This increased transparency would allow student activists to better hold the university accountable for its disciplinary procedures relating to gender-based violence.”

Email Natasha Roy at [email protected]

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