Reported campus crime offenses increased by less than one percent, or just 47 total offenses, between 2015 and 2016, according to the latest reports released by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI).
At 27 percent, the majority of offenses reported were classified as Larceny/Theft, with "Theft from a building" being the most reported offense in this category. The same was true for 2015's statistics, where 29 percent of all campus crime fell under Larceny/Theft.
Still though, the overall numbers for property theft have been steadily declining, 26 percent overall since 2013.
The number of robbery offenses increased by 27 percent, from in 24 reported offenses in 2015 to 28 in 2016.
Assault offenses have been on the rise as well, increasing 21 percent since last year. Assault offenses include aggravated assault, simple assault, and intimidation.
For the first time since 2012, reported rapes have decreased from the previous year. In 2016, there were 45 reported forcible rapes. That number is down from 62 in 2015, a 27.4 percent decline. The total category for forcible sex offenses, which include forcible rape, forcible sodomy, sexual assault with an object and forcible fondling, decreased by 26.5 percent.
The University of Memphis, which is the largest university in both student population and acreage, has seen a slight uptick in the total number of reported rapes. 2016
The Chief Operations Officer for the university, Bruce Harber, said that the institution will continue to push for campus community education around consent, reporting options, and survivor resources.
"Knowing how to report and being aware of the resources available through the University can empower survivors to come forward and report a significantly underreported crime," said Harber. "The U of M believes strongly that educational programming and awareness can help protect our students and prevent crimes, including sexual assault."
Harber also noted that the U of M has the lowest number of incidents reported per thousand students (15.2) among the state's ten largest universities.
Officials with TBI say that while the purpose of these reports is to assist educators, policy makers, and law enforcement when making decisions around campus safety, it's inadvisable to directly compare one institution's statistics to another.
"We want citizens to keep in mind that the factors impacting crime typically vary from community to community. For that reason, we strongly discourage the comparison of one institution’s statistics to another," said Leslie Earheart, a public information officer with the bureau.
Earhart instead recommends "comparing an institution’s data over the course of several years" when considering the overall safety data.
Rhodes, for example, had 13 reported sexual assault offenses, including seven reported incidents of rape. The U of M also had a total of 13 reported sexual assault offenses, though their student body outnumbers Rhodes' by more than 18,000 students.
Rhodes also has the majority of their students living on campus, while the U of M is largely a commuter school. Rhodes has also streamlined reporting efforts, including installing a red "report' button on every page of their website and phone app, making reporting easily accessible and confidential.