Updated October 2, 2018 at 8:17 p.m.
Newly-released Public Safety reports show a sharp increase in drug and alcohol-related disciplinary action at Columbia in the past year––despite a decrease for Barnard––as well as a decrease in reported sexual offenses at both Columbia and Barnard.
The two schools released their annual Security and Fire Safety Reports for 2018 in emails to the student bodies on Monday. The reports, mandated by federal laws, compiled crime and fire statistics for the University’s three campuses—Morningside Heights, the Medical Center, and Manhattanville—and Barnard, as well as student organization-controlled buildings and surrounding areas over the past three years.
The reports, which covered policies and instances of sexual violence, stalking, drug and alcohol violations, and fires, also showed an increase in stalking on the Morningside campus, and increase in fires at both Columbia and Barnard.
The University saw a 66 percent increase in drug-related discipline per year from 2015 to 2017 and a 135 percent increase in alcohol-related discipline in the past year alone. Barnard showed consistent decreases in alcohol-related discipline incidents from 2015 to 2017, the timespan of their recent report, but little change in drug-related discipline incidents. The Medical Center had one reported arrest for drugs during both 2015 and 2017.
The number of reported sex offenses at Columbia fell by over 50 percent in 2017, dropping from 12 reported incidents in both 2015 and 2016 to 5 in 2017. Barnard saw a more dramatic drop—from four reported rapes in 2015 and two in 2016 to zero in 2017, though it had an uptick in incidents of fondling, up to two in 2017 from zero in both 2015 and 2016.
Dating violence on the Morningside campus increased in 2017 by 56 percent, but dropped 50 percent at the Medical Center campus over each of the past two years. Instances of stalking on Columbia’s Morningside campus increased by 33 percent from 2016 to 2017, and decreased slightly at the Medical Center.
Despite evidence of sexual offenses, dating violence, and stalking on campus, legal changes at the federal level might affect Columbia University Public Safety’s involvement in and reporting on sexual and relationship violence. U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ recently-proposed Title IX guidelines could bring massive overhaul to the University’s handling of sexual misconduct on campus, granting increased legal protection to the accused and the institution’s role in investigations.
The Public Safety report defined “faculty member[s], coach[es], resident adviser[s], officers of administration and research, library staff … and teaching assistants” as mandatory reporters of gender-based misconduct to Title IX coordinators. The University is currently facing the second-highest number of Title IX investigations in the Ivy League, and five federal investigations for its handling of sexual misconduct investigations.
While fire alarms have gotten significant attention from students in recent weeks, with over 20 East Campus faulty fire alarms going off in a two-week span and three fire alarms pulled in Carman Hall last week alone, instances of actual fires have remained relatively the same year after year at both Columbia and Barnard. Columbia saw seven fires in 2017 and five in 2016 and 2015, while the number of fires reported at Barnard was two in 2015, four in 2016, and three in 2017.
Public Safety also used the report to urge students who witness crime on campus to report the instances to the University.
A previous version of this article referenced data from an outdated Barnard Public Safety report. The article has been updated to reflect the most recent report released on Oct. 1.