One of the most crucial considerations of moving anywhere is the local crime rate. This includes moving onto or around campus. The campus crime rate is not generally part of the criteria that college websites mention; however, more are beginning to report this information. This is as it should be because the crime rate and security on campus should always be a consideration of attending any college. Security policies are usually posted on university websites.
Some college websites actively post crime related info and, if they do not, a search engine may be used to determine the current crime rate of any campus. There are also a few websites that may be visited to search for these statistics. Users need only enter the university’s name into the search bar.
It was reported as recently as 2014 that approximately 20% to 25% of women had experienced someone at least attempting to sexually assault them on campus in the U.S. It is estimated that around 35,000 robberies were reported within residence halls each year. These are reports which are not always entirely accurate and do not necessarily involve actual prosecution. These numbers are still something to think about.
Both parents and students should make a point of inquiring about security measures in place at all campuses which are being considered for attendance. There are several simple, but important questions to ask.
- What measures are currently being taken to ensure student safety on campus?
- In the event of an emergency, what form of student/faculty communication is used?
- Who polices the campus and how is this done?
- Are there emergency security, cost free telephones in place on campus?
- When a crime is reported how are investigations handled?
- What is the current student safety education process?
- What security measures are in place for students who live in off-campus areas?
- What type of transportation is provided to students?
- What is the current campus drug and alcohol policy?
- What measures are taken during natural disasters?
There is a federal statue codified at 20 U.S.C. § 1092(f) known as the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act or simply the Clery Act. Contained in the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations are also implementing regulations. This Act requires any university and/or college which participates in the federal financial student aid programs to maintain as well as disclose all data concerning crime near and on respective campuses.
The U.S. Department of Education monitors compliance. This entity can impose civil penalties of up to $35,000 for each violation against educational institutions as well as suspend the institution from being able to participate in federal student aid programs. This mandate was named for Jeanne Clery who was a 19 year old campus rape/murder victim in 1986. The Act was originally named the Crime Awareness and Campus Security Act and was signed into law in 1990.
Be Smart, Be Safe
There is no reason that college should not be the most exciting time in an individual’s life. All students simply need to use a little common sense. Try to complete all errands during daylight hours. If something must be accomplished at night, take a friend or two, cell phone, and identification. Some campuses allow students to carry pepper spray. Walk in patrolled well-lit areas. Be smart, be safe, and have fun.