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The University Star




The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

University responds to 2022 high crime increase

Texas+State+students+walk+between+classes%2C+Monday%2C+Oct.+9%2C+2023+at+Alkek+Library.
Kobe Arriaga
Texas State students walk between classes, Monday, Oct. 9, 2023 at Alkek Library.

On Sept. 27, Texas State released the 2023 Annual Security and Fire Safety Report. The report showed an increase amongst reports in most crimes at the university from 2021 to 2022.

The report included a 135% increase in rapes reported, 200% increase in hate crimes reported and an over 200% increase in aggravated assault reported.

Matt Carmichael, police chief of University Police Department (UPD), projects that crime has gone up at Texas State, but he does not know the exact amount as crimes can be left unreported.

It’s obvious our numbers are higher,” Carmichael said. “So is it we do have more crime? I would say we do have more crime but I don’t know to what extent.”

2022 saw demand for on-campus housing overtake the beds actually available according to Bill Mattera, executive director of Housing and Residential life (DHRL).

“We started the fall at 108% occupancy; it’s usually between 98% and 99%, and then we closed at about 98% which is pretty high for us,” Mattera said. “So we lived about 10% above our normal numbers all year long.”

According to the report, in 2022, Texas State saw 38 rapes committed on campus. With the increased occupancy on-campus, Mattera believes some of the increase of crime can be attributed to more people living together.

“When you have more humans living here, there are more folks who have the ability to end up in some of these situations that are Clery reportable,” Mattera said.

Carmichael said UPD hired 13 officers since he took over January 2022, but while UPD has 30 sworn officers at the moment, there is a shortage of seven officers patrolling.

“We’re down officers on the street,” Carmichael said. “So out of our authorized staffing level, we’re down seven [officers] and three are always assigned to Round Rock… and that does make a difference.”

During the spring and fall semesters, Carmichael said there were three to four officers and one public safety office patrol campus at all times while working 12 hour-long shifts. With the current shortage of seven officers, that could be about one to two additional officers patrolling that UPD currently doesn’t have.

According to Carmichael, there are over 1000 security cameras on campus. This number includes cameras in on-campus residence halls. Mattera said cameras are put in common living areas but not in hallways of the dorms, meaning it can hard to track when possible assailants enter rooms.

“If it were up to most people in my job we’d put cameras all over the building but you have to really balance particularly in our buildings where bathrooms are external,” Mattera said.

Residence halls are ID card access only but according to Mattera, when doors are propped open or residents let people they don’t know in, it renders that security measure useless.

Mattera said DHRL worked to train residential assistants on how to write incident reports more thoroughly to ensure investigating the cases can be as efficient as possible.

“We spent more time in our training talking about what information to include in a report, what questions you should ask on the front-end and how to write about it,” Mattera said. “Those structural changes to how we receive those reports give us a better picture of what actually happened.”

Texas State President Kelly Damphousse believes that while crime numbers may have risen, the process of reporting crimes has improved in 2022 as the university is trying to increase awareness on reporting including self-defense trainings and promotional flyers in residency halls.

“One way of looking at this is to say that it looks like crime may be going up and other ways is looking at whether or not reporting of crimes has gone up,” Damphousse said.

Damphousse believes that more reports were filed in 2022 due to the university prioritizing reporting.

“What we’re seeing is a lot more communication with students about the value of reporting and the process making it easier to report,” Damphousse said. “I think we’ve done a really good job of increasing awareness of sexual assault and criminal activities as well as increasing the value of people reporting [crime].”

With these increased efforts to make knowledge of reporting more known to students, Carmichael wants the community to know reporting should not be something scared of but rather used when needed.

It’s really important that if you need help, you seek help,” Carmichael said.

Editor’s note: The first two paragraphs have been edited to show the report had an increase in crimes reported. 

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