Emory University’s annual Clery Report, released via a University-wide email from Emory Police Chief Cheryl Elliott on Oct. 1, revealed increases in aggravated assault, fondling and hate crimes on Emory’s Atlanta campus in 2020, which includes surrounding Emory Healthcare facilities. Incidents involving drug law violation disciplinary referrals and dating violence saw increases from 2019 to 2020 on the Oxford campus.

All institutions participating in federal financial aid assistance programs are required to submit a security and fire safety report. This year’s report reflects data collected by the Emory Police Department and Campus life from January 2020 to December 2020. However, the majority of this time frame involved a lessened student body presence on campus: The University moved to a completely virtual format in March 2020 due to COVID-19, and just first-years were invited back to campus for fall 2020. 

“The change in reported incidents may be attributed to the fact there were fewer students, faculty and staff on campus during a large portion of 2020 due to the pandemic,” Assistant Vice President of Communications and Marketing Laura Diamond said in an Oct. 5 email to the Wheel. “Historically, data in this annual report fluctuates from one year to the next.”  

According to the report, the Atlanta campus experienced 11 cases of aggravated assault in 2020. In 2018 and 2019 there was one reported case each year. There were no reported aggravated assault cases at Oxford over the past three years.

Diamond noted that none of the victims were students, and six of the incidents occurred in Clifton-based Emory Healthcare facilities. 

“These incidents reflect the unfortunate increase in workplace violence observed by hospitals in metro Atlanta and across the country,” Diamond wrote.

The Clery Act definition states that “this type of assault usually is accompanied by the use of a weapon or by means likely to produce death or great bodily harm.” 

Reports of hate crimes also saw an increase on the Atlanta campus in 2020, while no hate crimes were reported on the Oxford campus. According to the report, two of the hate crimes were “intimidation incidents” resulting from national origin bias. Racial bias motivated an additional “intimidation incident” as well as two “assault incidents.”

No hate crimes were reported on the Atlanta campus in 2019, but one “intimidation incident characterized by religious bias” was reported in 2018.

“Emory does not tolerate acts of hate, and we recognize how traumatic these incidents are for members of our community,” Diamond wrote. “The university’s priority remains the safety and wellbeing of our students, faculty and staff and upholding our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.”

Diamond added that the University is “a byproduct of our society as a whole” and that the incidents at Emory mirror the recent nationwide increase in hate crimes.

There were 11 reported cases of fondling on the Atlanta campus in 2020. This number is up from five reported cases the previous year. The Oxford campus reported no fondling incidents over the past three years.

The Clery Act defines fondling as “the touching of the private body parts of another person for the purposes of sexual gratification without the consent of the victim.” 

On the Oxford campus, drug law violation referrals increased to 18 in 2020, an 80% escalation from 2019. Such referrals decreased about 57% on the Atlanta campus, with nine drug referrals in 2020. 

While no incidents of dating violence were reported on the Oxford campus in 2019, there were three cases in 2020. However, the Atlanta campus experienced a 300% decrease in dating violence cases, with just two reported compared to eight the previous year. 

Dating violence is committed by a person involved in a “social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim,” the Clery Report definition states. Whether such a relationship exists is determined based on the reporting party’s statement as well as the length of relationship, type of relationship and the frequency of interactions between people involved in the relationship.  

Reports of rape on the Atlanta campus decreased from 14 in 2019 to nine in 2020. One incident of rape was reported on the Oxford campus in both 2019 and 2020.

Diamond attributed the University’s switch to virtual learning to the decrease in reports of sexual misconduct, which is a trend campuses across the country experiences. 

“We are mindful that this decrease in reported incidents does not mean that sexual and interpersonal violence did not occur in the lives of our students and our employees,” Diamond wrote. “The Department of Title IX provides support and resources for anyone impacted by sex discrimination, sexual harassment, or sexual violence, regardless of when or where the incident occurred, and we encourage anyone who has been impacted by sexual misconduct to reach out and learn more about their rights and options, or to seek support services.”  

Diamond added that Emory encourages students and all members of our community to report any incidents of sexual violence or misconduct.