Preliminary numbers from Student Judicial Services for disciplinary violations this year show a “concerning” hike in sexual assault complaints, suspensions and expulsions, while alcohol violations remained flat and fraternities saw a marked decrease in violations with no hazing charges.
Sexual assault victims come forward
Senior Assistant Dean Mike Walker reported that Student Judicial Services received 17 complaints of sexual assault or rape since August, a number that is “two to three times as much as normal.”
Last year the University Police Department reported 10 forcible sex offenses, some of which may not have been brought before a SJS hearing board.
Walker said five of this year’s sexual assault and rape cases went to the hearing board, meaning students could be either suspended or expelled. One student was suspended, and one was put on deferred suspension, which means the student will be suspended if he commits another offense.
The others were found not in violation.
Walker said SJS hears one to two rape cases in an average year and called the increase in the cases “concerning.”
University Counseling Center psychologist Kim Burghardt said it is difficult to say what caused the rise in complaints.
She said it might be attributed to more students having better knowledge of where to report assault and campus advocacy groups offering students support.
Senior Melisa Pardes, leader of a student-run rape support group, said she does not think rape or sexual assault is occurring more frequently.
“I think people are reporting it more,” Pardes said. “People are getting the support they need to come forward through campus-wide events.”
Pardes started a support group two years ago and said it is growing.
Walker said GW is planning to educate incoming freshmen on how drugs and alcohol can factor into a sexual assault.
“I do think a lot of (sexual assaults) comes down to alcohol use,” he said. “It was a focus for Colonial Inauguration training.”
Alcohol violations remain steady
Walker said alcohol violations this school year remained about the same as last year, with 325 violations.
Walker added that although SJS handed down the same amount of alcohol-related sanctions, drug evictions, alcohol hospitalizations and arrests are all down slightly.
He said GW has reports of 60 Metropolitan Police arresting students so far this year and 88 last year. MPD provides the University with names of students arrested monthly, but GW does not find out about all student arrests.
Walker said students were primarily arrested for underage drinking and false identification, yet there were “several” arrests for assaulting police officers, four for drug possession and two for assault-like offenses.
MPD arrests decline slightly
Officer David Carter, a member of MPD’s Focus Mission Unit that deals with underage drinking, said he estimates about 75 to 100 GW students have been arrested for underage drinking since January.
He said SJS may only find out about a small portion of offenders because some arresting officers may not knowingly arrest GW students or report them to UPD.
Walker said although some arrests may not be sent to UPD, MPD has been doing a “good job” reporting cases on a monthly basis.
Carter said overall arrests for underage drinking may have dropped slightly this year.
“We still catch a lot of them out there,” Carter said. “But it has been made known that officers are out there and it discourages a lot of people.”
He said most students arrested in the area tend to come from GW or American University because there are fewer campus parties at these schools.
“They all go out to clubs,” he said.
Greeks boost reputation with clean year
Walker said Greek organizations have been “relatively quiet” this year; only one sorority faced a University Hearing Board conference compared to three conferences last year.
SJS reported in an e-mail that the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority was put on disciplinary and social probation earlier this year for forging an alcohol registration form.
He added there have been no hazing incidents reported to the University.
“(Greek organizations) have also been focusing on philanthropy and other positive things,” Walker said.
Interfraternity Council President Anthony Morris said he has addressed small incidents like water balloons being thrown from the Delta Tau Delta house, but has had no hearings.
Walker said expulsions and suspensions are on the rise, with four students expelled this year compared to two last year, and eight students suspended this year compared to five last year.
Walker declined to comment on the nature of violations that resulted in the suspensions and expulsions.
-Russ Rizzo and Drew Wiseman contributed to this report.