Safe. It’s a word used often and it is often taken for granted. As the 2010 school year begins, both new and returning students flood campus with hopes of epic parties and acceptable grades. But are they thinking about how safe they are?
Public Safety is. Every year, in accordance with state law, Public Safety conducts a uniform campus crime report for the previous calendar year. This report must be consistent with the FBI’s uniform crime reporting system.
Assistant Director of Public Safety John Ritchie said, “We don’t think the numbers going up on the report are a direct result of more incidents occurring, but of more incidents being reported.”
Ritchie is referring to a rise in incidents in two of the ten crime categories: sexual offenses and larceny. The other eight crime categories include criminal homicide, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, motor vehicle theft, arson and hate crimes.
“Larceny is when there is no forced entry,” Ritchie explained. “These people are being invited in. This weekend alone we caught two student-aged men with an estimated $3000 worth of personal property in their vehicle.”
On a college campus it is easy to get so caught up in throwing parties, being friendly and letting guests into your home that you don’t personally know. It is the nature of campus life, but also a breeding ground for theft.
“We’re really trying to push this message to community members: If people are in your residence and you don’t know them, don’t let them in,” said Ritchie.
The other crimes seemingly on the rise are sexual offenses. In 2007 only one sexual offense was reported. The number has grown by one each year since.
“Sexual assaults are nationally underreported,” said Ritchie. “If you look at the statistics approximately 1 in 5 women will be sexually assaulted. For only three assaults to have occurred on campus doesn’t match up,” said Ritchie.
With that in mind, Public Safety implemented an anonymous reporting system last year because of the fact that community members may feel uncomfortable coming forward and in turn, their assault goes unreported. Public safety feels a rise in numbers is a result of advertising this campaign and encouraging community members to report incidents.
With a new school year well on its way, Public Safety hopes to keep the students safe while still respecting their privacy. It’s a big job, and students need to play their role. Lock your doors, be selective with your guest lists and report incidents as they occur. Think about your safety!