On Friday, September 30, Director of Safety and Security Randy Nichols released the 2016 Annual Security Report, issued in compliance with the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act of 1998. Among other things, the Clery Act requires the College to disclose reported sex offenses over the previous three years, defining sex offenses as rape, fondling, incest and statutory rape.

Bowdoin’s policies in regards to sexual assaults have consistently been forward-thinking compared to those of other institutions of higher education. In 2014, the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault issued a report with recommendations to bolster sexual assault policies at colleges and universities. When these recommendations were issued, Bowdoin did not have to amend its policies in order to comply with the task force's counsel—the College had policies in place that met the standards set in every area of the report.

Given that the College has independently set progressive reporting policies (where ‘reporting’ means the College’s disclosure of the number of incidents in a formal report) relative to those of peer institutions, the College should continue along this vein and further improve its formal reporting of sex offenses in its Annual Security Report.

We believe that the College has an obligation to go beyond the guidelines established by the Clery Act. The Security Report should include a broader range of sex offense classifications in order to reflect a more accurate review of sex offenses. Students have a right to know about incidents that may continue to pose a risk to the Bowdoin community.

Since the Clery Report has a limited definition of sex offenses, some occurrences are not officially mentioned. For example, the “Peeping Tom” incidents of last fall are not included in the Security Report because they don’t fall under one of the four aforementioned categories of sex offenses. A person unaffiliated with Bowdoin committed a crime by invading the privacy of Bowdoin students in their residences, which posed a direct risk to student safety, and should have been formally included in the annual report.  

In addition, Bowdoin’s Security Report states that it includes statistics “concerning reported crimes that occurred on campus, in certain off-campus buildings or property owned or controlled by Bowdoin College, and on public property within or immediately adjacent to and accessible from the campus.”

This language is inherently limited. Any crimes, including sex offenses, that occur outside this scope, including those at or near off-campus residences, are not accounted for in the Annual Security Report—and neither are instances involving Bowdoin students farther than the areas “immediately adjacent” to campus.

Not reporting incidents such as these is an oversight. They are relevant to all students, and can directly affect their safety. Formally acknowledging such incidents as part of the College’s reported statistics is necessary. Bowdoin should be a leader among its peers and demonstrate a willingness to go beyond the minimum requirements for officially reporting sex offenses.

This editorial represents the majority view of the Bowdoin Orient's editorial board, which is comprised of Marina Affo, Julian Andrews, Steff Chavez, Meg Robbins and Joe Seibert.