The University of Utah released two major safety reports this week—an overall campus crime and fire accounting required by federal law and a housing-specific analysis dictated by state law.
Under the Clery Act, U.S. higher education institutions are required to gather information about all crimes committed within the main campus boundary and in nearby neighborhoods. Annual Security & Fire Safety Reports (ASR) report offenses ranging from property crimes to hate crimes; sex offenses; Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) offenses; and drug, alcohol and weapon offenses. The University of Utah files two ASRs—one for the main Utah campus and another for the Utah Asia Campus in Incheon, South Korea. And for the first time, the 2021 report includes data for health clinics and research facilities across the state.
The detailed housing crime data is required by a state law passed in 2021, which requires Utah higher education institutions to gather information about all crimes reported to campus and local law enforcement agencies and break the statistics down by housing unit*.
The housing crime data is separate from the university’s which is posted twice a year—once in the fall, and once in the spring. Both reports are available online and include data from 2021. The crime statistics detailed in the housing report also are counted in the ASR.
Together, the crime reports show the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) offenses, with crime numbers falling during the 2020-2021 school year, which reduced the population on campus. During the hybrid Spring 2021 Semester, for example, university housing was 72% occupied. A return to in-person classes, full occupancy in residence halls and on-site work policies resulted in elevated crime statistics to 2019 pre-pandemic levels.
The reports tracked:
- Domestic violence cases remained steady over the past three years, going from 18 in 2019, to 19 in 2020, to 20 in 2021. This number does not include the tragic death of student Zhifan Dong, who was killed in downtown Salt Lake City on February 11, 2022.
- Improved trauma-informed investigation and interviewing techniques which led to reclassification of sexual assault reports as “unfounded.” In 2019 and 2020, the university reported single cases in each year. In 2021, two “unfounded rape” cases and two “unfounded fondling” cases were documented.
- An apparent uptick in aggravated assault reports on campus, which have increased from six in 2019, to five in 2020, and 13 in 2021. U Police note that 10 out of those 13 assaults involved patients and visitors in University of Utah Health Hospitals & Clinics, and credit increased reporting from U of U Health staff, who faced increased violence during the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, two of the five reported aggravated assaults on campus occurred in health care settings. U of U Health has strengthened guidelines of care for prevention.
- A slight bump in stalking cases, which increased from 62 in 2019, 28 in 2020 (when classes were online and much of campus was closed during the pandemic) and growing again to 73 in 2021. U Police say the number of stalking cases on campus was artificially low during the pandemic since most classes were online and most employees worked remotely.
The reports include the last three years of crime and fire statistics for the university, as well as information about safety and security-related services offered by the U.
“Tracking these crimes in a transparent and open way is critical to our effort to make the University of Utah a welcoming and secure place for our students, faculty and staff,” said Keith Squires, chief safety officer. “The more we know about what is happening on our campus, the more strategic and responsive we can be in finding solutions to combat those crimes.”
The crimes tracked in the reports do not include reports made to other offices and service providers outside of law enforcement. All the reports are available online. If you would like a printed copy, visit the University of Utah Public Safety building, 1658 East 500 South; or the Office of the Dean of Students at the Utah Asia Campus. Questions regarding the reports can be directed to the Office of the Chief Safety Officer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*The university provides single, group and family housing for undergraduate and graduate students. Housing and Residential Education (HRE) manages facilities in the Fort Douglas Officer’s Circle area, traditional on-campus residence halls and downtown commons buildings in downtown Salt Lake City. University Student Apartments (USA) manages graduate and family student housing in the Medical Plaza area and USA’s East and West Villages on Sunnyside Ave.