When students at Texas Christian University learn about the dangers of alcohol, they are not just taught about the health risks. They learn about its impact on consent and how it can lead to poor decision-making.

The university’s chief of police, Robert Rangel, said that’s crucial to preventing sexual violence on campus. Typically, the buddy system might mean young women making sure someone is with them at all times when they go out.

For Rangel at Texas Christian University, it also means having someone there to stop someone else from assaulting someone. 

In 2021, there were 54 crimes reported on college campuses in Fort Worth that fall under the violence against women category. That’s an increase from 34 in 2020. It is one of the most significant increases in reported crimes on Fort Worth college campuses.

That does not include reports of rape, statutory rape or fondling.

Every year, colleges and universities have to release an annual fire and security report as part of the Clery Act. This year’s report shows that, as learning is less disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, crime is returning to campuses in higher numbers in many instances.

The report does not necessarily mean crime is increasing, Rangel said. What it does mean is more people feel empowered and safe enough to report it, he said.

Texas Wesleyan University

Dennis Hall, Texas Wesleyan University vice president for student affairs and dean of students, said this year’s numbers are fairly typical for the campus. 

In 2020, there were not as many students on the Texas Wesleyan campus because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Hall said. Residence halls were single occupancy, resulting in half the number of students living on campus. That could contribute to the decrease in some numbers, he said.

Texas Wesleyan had decreases in every category, except for discipline referrals for drug violations, which increased from eight in 2020 to 22 in 2021.

Hall also stressed that the Clery Report shows only reported incidents, so it does not encapsulate the entire student experience.

“Of course, with the new guidance from the Department of Education under Betsy DeVos with Title IX, we’re expecting to see a chilling effect on reports,” Hall said. “I’m not sure if any of that trend is going to be seen in our Clery Report this year.”

Although President Joe Biden is taking steps to reverse those changes, experts have said DeVos’s changes decreased reporting because of harm to victims who make reports. According to NPR, the Biden administration said “those regulations weakened protections for survivors of sexual assault and diminished the promise of an education free from discrimination.”

The Clery Report has campuses report stalking, domestic violence and dating violence under Violence Against Women Act categories. Rape and other assault numbers reported both to the police and Titile IX are in other parts of the report, Hall said.

In 2021, there were two incidents of stalking reported and two reports of dating violence, which, under Title IX is violence committed by someone who is or was in a social or romantic relationship with the victim. There were no reported rapes on campus or other forms of assault.

Texas Christian University

The largest increases of crime reported at Texas Christian University were in dating violence and alcohol violation, such as underage drinking or public intoxication, arrests. 

Dating violence reports increased from seven to 17 between 2020 and 2021. Alcohol violation arrests jumped from one to 15. 

One concerning statistic for Adrian Andrews, vice chancellor for public safety, is the 22 rapes in the report. Five of those were reported to the police for criminal prosecution and the rest were reported under Title IX, he said.

As a parent, he would be concerned seeing just that number, Andrews said, but context is important. All 22 were acquaintance sexual assault, meaning the victim and assailant knew each other. 

“This was a situation where individuals knew each other, and obviously things got dangerously out of hand,” Andrews said. “And it’s just a really, really sad situation.”

He does not want people to think the campus itself is unsafe and people are “jumping out of the bushes.”

The consent and alcohol education Rangel previously mentioned that the university is doing can, hopefully, help decrease relationship and sexual violence.

Both Rangel and Andrews have daughters. And both said that makes this work personal for them.

“Sexual assault on a college campus is something that’s very difficult to deal with, because typically the circumstances involve two people that at least to some degree are acquainted,” Rangel said. “And it is impossible for the police to prevent that when it’s happening because it’s typically in private.”

The campus wants to educate all parties on how alcohol and drugs can influence poor decisions, but also on resources available to survivors whether it’s counseling, pursuing criminal charges, or other needs, Rangel said.

But the most reported referrals at Texas Christian are discipline referrals for drug and alcohol violations, which are labeled differently than arrests. 

In 2021, there were 834 on-campus alcohol violation referrals and 49 on-campus drug violation referrals. Though these numbers are high compared to other crimes reported, they both are a decrease compared to 2020. 

In 2020, the campus reported 1,117 on-campus alcohol violation referrals and 137 on-campus drug violation referrals.

Alcohol arrests are typically for public intoxication and most drinking isn’t happening in public spaces, which is part of why there is a significant difference in arrests versus referrals, Rangel said. Also, to arrest someone, the police need to show the person is a danger to themselves or somebody else, which also contributes to the difference.

A criminal arrest can follow students well after college, Andrews said. The university does not want to ruin their chances before they get started.

“We’d rather do the in-house citation because for some careers — especially in law enforcement — a criminal arrest will eliminate your chances for having that occupation. We know that young people are going to possibly drink a little too much. They don’t know their limits. We want to use it as an education tool, a lesson to learn.”

But if university officials spot someone with the potential to develop a drinking problem, Andrews said, they will help that student with resources to prevent that.

The campus also has shown a decrease in on-campus burglary. In 2021, there were three incidents of burglary reported compared to eight in 2020 and 14 in 2019.

Texas Christian University reported 22 cases of rape and four cases of fondling. 

There was an increase in reports labeled under the Violence Against Women Act category with 17 instances of dating violence, two cases of domestic violence and four case of stalking. All of those numbers are an increase except for stalking, which has remained the same for three years.

Tarrant County College

Tarrant County College has five different campuses that have numbers reported. Across those campuses, the Northwest Campus has the most incidents reported with stalking being the highest-reported category.

Although the Northwest Campus has the highest number of crimes reported, the overall number of incidents reported was 11 in 2021. 

Each Tarrant County College campus is unique. Where incidents decreased in some places — such as stalking at the Trinity River Campus going from six in 2020 to one in 2021 — they increased in others — like stalking increasing or remaining the same on every other campus.

Across campuses, Violence Against Women Act incidents totaled 27 in 2021, which is an increase from 20 in 2020.

Tarrant County College had two incidents of statory rape — rape of someone under the age of 17 — at the Trinity River Campus.

The Report reached out to the Tarrant COunty College communications office but did not receive a response by deadline.

Moving forward

Texas Wesleyan’s Hall believes there are practices used in 2020 that still can be applied today, despite COVID-19 restrictions being lifted. Those practices can help keep crime down.

Education on drugs, alcohol and healthy relationships can help decrease violations related to those areas, Hall said. The campus also wants to be more proactive and try to prevent crimes before they happen versus just responding.

That doesn’t mean Hall thinks administration can stop every instance of students drinking. But he does hope the free therapy services provided to students will help decrease students using alcohol to self-medicate.

“Through our care team, which is really designed to try to help students in crisis and to help keep our community safe by intervening with the crisis, but if we can continue to create a support network for them prior to crisis, we will see fewer negative behaviors happening as well,” Hall said. 

Kristen Barton is an education reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at kristen.barton@fortworthreport.org. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here. 

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Kristen Barton

Kristen Barton is an education reporter for the Fort Worth Report. She has previous experience in education reporting for her hometown paper, the Longview News-Journal and her college paper, The Daily...