American college campuses are among the nation’s safest areas, according to a comprehensive campus crime report released by the U.S. Department of Education last Friday. The report indicates that crime rates on college campuses are lower than the rest of the country.

The report, which includes crime statistics for over 6,300 public and private postsecondary schools for the last three years, indicates that while the frequency of some on-campus crimes such as homicide have decreased in recent years, others, including sexual assault, are on the rise.

Alcohol-related crimes and liquor law violations were those that occurred most frequently on college campuses. In 1999, there were 25,933 arrests and 108,846 student disciplinary referrals for liquor law violations. Compared to other universities of similar size, Georgetown was below average with 268 on-campus liquor law violations resulting in disciplinary action or judicial referrals in 1999. Eighteen drug abuse violations were reported at Georgetown in 1999.

While the report indicates that the total number of campus homicides decreased by 54 percent from 1997 to 1999, the number of several other criminal offenses has increased. Reported hate crimes, for example, jumped from 1,312 cases in 1997 to 2,067 in 1999.

The total number of sexual offenses increased as well. Over the three year period, reported cases of sexual assault increased by 15 percent – from 2,140 to 2,469.

S. Daniel Carter, vice-president of Security on Campus Inc., a non-profit organization aimed at cutting campus crime, said that while the principal objective of the report is to compile and analyze security data, it also intends to make students sensitive to crime statistics specific to their campuses.

“[It shows] students that crimes occur on their campus so that they can take steps to avoid becoming a victim,” he said.

While Georgetown Assistant Vice President of Communications Julie Green Bataille acknowledges that certain crime rates are on the rise, she said that Georgetown’s Department of Public Safety is working to solve the problems.

“The safety and security of students and staff is a primary concern to this campus,” she said. “DPS does a good job of educating people to prevent crime.”

“The campus crime statistics collected by the U.S. Department of Education suggest that our nation’s college campuses are safe,” the report said. “In nearly every category of crime, for which data were collected, campuses showed lower incidence of crime than comparable data for the nation as a whole.”

Following the national trend, reported on-campus burglaries at Georgetown are on the rise as well – from 77 cases in 1997 to 102 in 1999.

Green Bataille said that students can take several steps to reduce the occurrence of campus crime.

“Students can be mindful of their surroundings, leave their property secured and report crimes to DPS,” she said. “They can also use the emergency phones or contact a Resident Assistant.”

Carter had several suggestions as well. “A community-oriented policing program can be implemented so that officers can get to know people at various areas on campus,” he said. Patrol programs acquaint security officers and students, consequently increasing the reporting of crimes, he said.

In addition to providing parents and potential college students with campus security information, the objective of the report, as stated by the Department of Education, is to “help administrators at the nation’s postsecondary institutions enhance campus safety.”

In addition to being informative, she said that the publication of crime statistics is helpful because it makes students aware of the immediacy of crime at the university.

“[These reports] are very helpful for students and their families so that they can have information at hand about what kind of activities could potentially occur on and off campus.”

DPS publishes all on-campus crime statistics annually.

Like Greene Bataille, most students agreed that publication of the report is a potentially useful tool.

“I can’t think of any reason why the statistics shouldn’t be made public,” Nicole Diamant (COL ’04) said.

Katie Boogaard (NUR ’04) agreed that making crime statistics available to prospective and present students is important.

“Students have the right to know what they’re getting into,” she said.

An on-line version of this first-ever comprehensive report can be found at http://www.ed.gov/offices/OPE/PPI/ReportToCongress.pdf.

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