A campus police vehicle patrols Austin Peay. | THE ALL STATE ARCHIVES

An annual safety report revealed that the number of sex offenses on Austin Peay’s main campus increased slightly since 2019, although the university was heavily limited in an on-campus capacity for most of last year. 

The report said there were six filed accounts of dating violence, four of fondling without consent and three of rape in the fall, spring and summer semesters. No cases of dating violence were reported in 2018 and 2019, and the school’s numbers for fondling and rape are tied for the most reported in the past five years.

Of the seven reported rapes and fondlings, four took place on campus.

“We take all reports in these categories seriously,” said Executive Director of Public Relations and Marketing Bill Persinger. “When any of these incidents occur, an investigation takes place through the Title IX process. Additionally, a criminal investigation takes place if requested by the victim.

“While we do not discuss details in order to protect victims, I can say that in all cases for 2020, the parties involved were acquaintances.”

The university police department releases its annual security and fire safety report under the Clery Act, which became law in 1990. It requires U.S. colleges and universities that receive federal funding to be transparent with safety policies, crime and fire reports.

Students can view the full report here.

“We have a very safe campus,” said Sammie Williams, chief of police at APSU. “However, regardless of how good our safety record is, we want to continually improve safety on our campus.”

By comparison, the university had more offenses of rape and fondling than Tennessee Tech (zero) and Western Kentucky (four) combined in 2020.

The school’s statistics on sexual misconduct are the same as Middle Tennessee State, whose enrollment doubles that of APSU.

“I wish the number of these was zero — that nothing like that happened ever to anyone — but these statistics are not shocking to me, and I foresee them increasing as we become a community aware of these issues,” said SGA Secretary Ana Pla Rosario. “I wish I could heal every heart that has been hurt by these awful acts.

“I feel that we must acknowledge the gaps in our sexual education and relationships and be open to learning and educating more about consent, respect, honest communication, signs of interpersonal violence, how to stand up for each other and so many topics that can aid in the prevention of sexual misconduct.”

Jon Nelson contributed to this report.