An Eye on Campus Safety

Budget cuts are running deep, affecting both faculty and facilities. For facilities, this may mean putting construction projects on hold or deferring maintenance. For staff, this may mean faculty layoffs or cuts to security staff. Spread too thin, this can create a dangerous situation on campus.

In 1990, the Clery Act was enacted, requiring institutions to provide annual statistics on campus crimes. Data collected for 2010 shows the following events occurred on campuses across the United States:
  • Criminal offenses on campus: Murder (15), Forcible sex offenses (2,936), Robbery (1,819), Aggravated assaults (2,532), Burglary (22,222), Motor vehicle theft (3,624), Arson (742)
  • Arrests on campus: Weapons (1,220), Drug abuse (19,245), Liquor law violation (32,800)
  • Disciplinary actions: Weapons (1,449), Drug abuse (42,067), Liquor law violation (186,478)
  • Fires: Fires (2,341), Injuries (46)

Statistics certainly tell a story, but data is only as good and those who enter it or those who interpret it. In his book School Violence, Stuart Henry, B.A., Ph.D., professor of Criminal Justice and director of the School of Public Affairs at San Diego State University, states that we often define the problem of school violence too narrowly. The focus is usually on interpersonal violence between students or by students toward their teachers. When in reality, any instance of crime or violence at a school not only affects the individuals involved but also may disrupt the educational process and affect bystanders, the school itself, and the surrounding community.

In our own June 2012 survey on college housing, student safety and security concerns were raised by a number of the responding colleges and universities. Their concerns included:
  • The increasing number of students arriving on campus with mental health issues and the institution having the resources to support them,
  • the fact that many students do not feel they should be held accountable for breaking rules and that some students seem to lack a sense of boundaries, and
  • a lack of civility.

In this issue you will find our special section of campus safety. Hopefully you will find some tips to make your campus a safer, more secure environment.