Spike in reported rapes on college campus in Jacksonville

A university in Jacksonville is seeing a spike in reported rapes on campus.

Action News Jax found the number of reported rapes quadrupled in three years at the University of North Florida.

“One is too high,” student Ryan McLaughlin said.

In the latest annual security report released by the University of North Florida police department, there were nine reported rapes on campus in 2017.

“I had no idea; I guess it’s not really talked about on campus,” student Britney Smith said.

Action News Jax compared the numbers to a similar sized school, Florida Gulf Coast University, where the annual report states there were no rapes reported on campus in 2015, four in 2016 and five in 2017.

And at UNF that number jumped from two reported rapes in 2015 to five in 2016.

“I didn’t expect that to happen I don’t really see any of that going on around campus,” student Danny Pazos said.

Police Chief Frank Mackesy said there is a reason why the number is so high.

“Because we have to count it even if they say it and we have no evidence if it’s accurate,” Chief Mackesy said.

He believes social media has also contributed to the spike in reported rapes.

“You have a right as a young woman to go on the social media apps and meet whomever you want. There are people out there who will take advantage of that,” Chief Mackesy said.

Students said if they are walking the campus alone, they typically feel safe but take precautions.

“I typically don’t go out late at night, but if I do, I’m on the phone so I’m aware and always looking around,” student Jazmyn Wimberly said.

Chief Mackesy said there are also resources on campus including counseling and self-defense training for women.

An advocate for victims of sexual assault said as awareness of sexual assault becomes more common, more people are likely to report it, citing the #metoo movement.