The University of Dallas experienced a significant increase in the number of reported rapes on campus in 2019 versus 2018.
According to data provided in the University of Dallas Police Department’s 2020 annual report, seven rapes were reported in 2019, while two were reported in 2018.
Whether the figures represent an actual increase in attacks or an increase in reporting of attacks is unclear, however.
Dean of Students Julia Carrano said that the higher number of rapes may represent more students coming forward in 2019 than in 2018.
“I think it’s better record keeping on the part of the university,” she said. The Title IX office has “done a much more professional and concentrated effort to record and investigate these cases.”
In recent years, UD’s Civil Rights and Title IX office has improved its training, accessibility, and reporting processes, she said.
Assault victims have long been able to report their attacks to multiple representatives of the University, including police, campus safety officers, resident assistants, student workers, the Office of Student Affairs and the Title IX office and its representatives.
Victims can also make confidential reports to a counselor, licensed therapist, or a priest. These confidential reporters must report a rape or a sexual assault to the Title IX office, but any indentifying information is removed from their report. Unless there is an imminent threat to a victim’s safety, confidentiality must be adhered to.
Johnathan Sumpter, director of the counseling center, said it’s crucial victims have the confidence to speak to someone about what has happened to them.
“If people don’t trust in the system, then they will be less likely to report to the system. If there’s trust, there will be more reporting,” Sumpter said.
UD has policies designed to encourage people to come forward without fear of punishment, including an amnesty policy.
Luciana Milano, Director of the Office of Civil Rights and Title IX Coordinator, explained that this includes individuals who “participate in the reporting, investigative, or disciplinary process of an alleged violation of University civil rights policy.”
“A lot of students don’t want to come forward because it’s clear that they were intoxicated or they were taking illegal substances and I think that’s an important part to understand. here’s not action taken against the student,” Carrano said.
If a student comes forward and reportsbeing a victim of any type of sexual harassment, sexual assault (including rape), dating violence, or stalking, UD immediately offers the student numerous supportive measures. Even if a victim does not want to make a formal complaint or pursue legal action, UD will provide accommodations in academics, living arrangements, transportation, working conditions and other protective measures.
A student may make an informal complaint to receive supportive measures and to put the complaint in the record in case other issues arise in the future.
“All you have to do is make a complaint. You do not have to move through the entire process and make sure that the [accused individual] is found responsible. You don’t have to fear that you don’t know if the threshold of evidence is there,” Carrano said.
Alternatively, if victims want their case to be investigated so that the offending person may receive disciplinary action, they must make a formal complaint. Title IX will initiate the investigation, make a report, and schedule a hearing within 10 days.
The formal complaint process uses the preponderance of the evidence standard, allowing the alleged rapist to be found responsible if there is at least 50% of evidence against him/her. “It is often more easy for a student to achieve some sort of justice through the Title IX process because it’s less costly and its threshold is not a criminal threshold. Our standard of evidence is lower,” Carrano explained.
Making a formal complaint does not limit a student’s ability to also pursue legal action in a criminal court. Further, once a complainant makes a formal complaint, he/she may withdraw their complaint at any time.
However, if a complainant does withdraw out of fear or retaliation, UD is required to take action.
“The University strongly prohibits retaliation against anyone who reports sexual assault or any other violation of the University Civil Rights Policy and takes swift action to respond to reports of retaliation,” Milano wrote in an email to The University News.
In addition to the legal support UD offers, the school offers mental and emotional support regardless of whether a formal complaint was made or not. “There’s the legal side of it and then there’s the human side of it. Something happened and it’s hard to go through as a human,” Sumpter said.
“All of us are here to help deal with the trauma and deal with the stress, [to help you] manage your life again,” Carrano said.
Milano listed the mental and emotional supports offered by UD which include, but are not limited to:
“Confidential assistance available through the UD Counseling Center with licensed professional counselors who bring specific training to assist victims of trauma or other concerns; confidential faith-focused support available in the Campus Ministry Office; confidential medical assistance in the Campus Health Center; restrictions on contact between the parties; offering adjustments to academic deadlines, course schedules, etc; offering altered work arrangements for employees; offering housing, dining, and transportation adjustments and assistance.”
“There’s no shame to get help when you’ve been victimized,” Sumpter said. “We are here to help and we will get them the help one way or the other.”
Students may find UD’s civil rights policy and supportive measures here and the online complaint system here. Milano explains the Title IX office and its duties in this video, and she may be contacted at email@example.com and at 972-721-5056.