Reporting Campus Crime Statistics

Tuesday, April 17th 2007, 10:32 am
By: News On 6

In 1990, Congress passed a law that requires the vast majority of colleges to report crime statistics on campus. It's called the Jeanne Clery Act, in memory of a student who was murdered in a college dorm in 1986. Before the law, Clery's parents say only 4% of college's reported their crime figures. The News On 6’s Steve Berg reports now, more than 6,000 colleges report the stats.

The crime statistics are easy to find online. Clery’s parents helped create Security on Campus Inc., a non-profit group devoted to campus security.

Clery was a freshman at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania in 1986 when she was raped and murdered by another student during a robbery attempt. Howard and Connie Clery believed that more awareness of crime would lessen crime. So they pushed for the law that has resulted in greater reporting.

On the website, you can type in the name of the university, and it will pull up crime stats for the three most recent years available. Out of curiosity, we compared Virginia Tech with Oklahoma State. Both have student populations around 25,000. Both are in rural towns of about 40,000, and thanks to links provided by the website to each university, we found that both have campus police departments of about 30 officers.

Crime rates for both were very similar with burglary being the most common. A 1999 study looked at whether the Clery Act had any impact on students. It found that less than 4% of students base their decision on where to go to college on crime stats. Ironically, the professor who did the study was from Virginia Tech.

As you might expect, homicides are extremely rare. Less than five homicides occurred in 400 of the largest universities in 2005, the most recent reporting year. In case you were wondering, Virginia Tech had zero.

Of course, something on the scale of Monday’s crime might be unpredictable, but generally speaking, the Clery's believe that crime awareness can lessen your chances of being a victim.

If you have family or a professional connection with Virginia Tech, the News On 6 would like to hear from you. Please contact us at 918-732-6105 or email the News On 6.

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