(BLOOMINGTON) - As students begin the fall semester, Indiana University is receiving national attention for its campus figures.
But they might not be ones to brag about.
Recent published reports in national media outlets like ProPublica and the Washington Post have pointed out that Indiana University ranks among the top ten college campuses nationwide with the most reports of alleged sexual assault incidents.
Those figures, printed in a Post article earlier this summer, relied heavily on information and statistics that universities are required to turn over to the U.S. Department of Education, IU officials confirm.
Despite high numbers that might alarm parents of incoming students, university officials claim those high figures might actually be a good thing.
"The numbers reflect the fact that students are coming forward," said Emily Springston, IU's associate general counsel. "For such a big campus, our numbers make sense for this size of community."
Those figures, according to the post, show that IU reported 54 alleged acts of forcible sexual assault between 2010 and 2012. Springston says the actual number of sexual assaults may be even higher because the statistics turned over to Washington don't reflect the countless number of sexual assaults that go unreported.
"(The numbers) don't tell the whole story," Springston said. "People handle this trauma in very different ways. Some would rather not involve law enforcement."
Springston said the university has stepped up its efforts to increase student education and outreach, playing host to resource fairs.
Even if the numbers are skewed by both unreported assaults or a higher number of reported incidents, IU sexual assault counselor Ann Skirvin says she's seen an increased workload with her caseload almost doubling.
She says it's not that more students are seeking counseling - simply in her experience - that more students are attending counseling for longer periods of time.
Many of the students are repeat clients, who seek assistance over weeks or even years.
"But I can understand why a parent would be concerned that other universities are not reporting it the same way we are," she said. "My job is to believe (the victims). I'm not in a position like a person in law enforcement who has to investigate a case."
Among the changes include a new website allowing would-be victims to report sexual assaults anonymously while at the same time compiling data that can be sent to both Title IX coordinators and campus police.
Have a question or comment about a news story? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org