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Methodology: 100 Most Dangerous College Campuses in New England

Monday, March 25, 2013

 

To assess and rank New England's colleges based on reported criminal activity, GoLocal utilized the public data available from the US Department of Education's Campus Safety and Security Statistics website database, to which crime statistics are submitted annually, via web-based data collection, by all secondary institutions that receive Title IV funding (in other words, those colleges that participate in federal student aid programs). The data collection is required by the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act and the Higher Education Opportunity Act, known more familiarly as the Clery Act. The database will be referred to herein as the Clery database.

GoLocal obtained the Clery database information on every New England institution that had reported in 2011, and then culled institutions smaller than an enrollment of 500.

GoLocal obtained 3 years of the most recent data for each school (2011, 2010, 2009), seeking to gain a broader sense of reported crimes over a span of years.

Reporting the data

The Clery data is broken into 9 categories:

Murder/Non-negligent manslaughter
Negligent manslaughter
Sex offenses - Forcible
Sex offenses - Non-forcible
Aggravated assault
Burglary
Motor vehicle theft
Arson
Robbery

GoLocal averaged the number of each school's crimes in each category, based on 3 years of data. In a very few cases, only two years were available (a new campus, for example, since 2010), and GoLocal averaged the two years.

GoLocal computed an average enrollment for each college based on its reported enrollments in the Clery database. It used this enrollment to create a per capita crime rate in each of the 9 categories.

(Note: some colleges and universities reported more than one campus location underneath one enrollment total. In this case, GoLocal combined the campuses within the larger enrollment number to yield a sum that was fairly divisible by the total enrollment. Those campuses are indicated by an asterisk after their enrollment number with an italicized note.)

Weighting the data

To arrive at a ranking, GoLocal applied the following weighting to each school's average crime rate:

VIOLENT CRIMES:

.75: Murder/Non-negligent manslaughter

.75: Negligent manslaughter

.5: Sex offenses - Forcible

.5: Sex offenses - Non-forcible

.25: Robbery

.25: Aggravated assault

PROPERTY CRIMES:

.33 Burglary

.33 Motor vehicle theft

.33 Arson

Each school's 9 weighted values were summed, then expressed as a readable Crime Index by multiplying by 10,000. The schools were ranked from lowest crime index (equating to lower crime rates per capita), to highest.

GoLocal acknowledges that the nature of the Clery reporting creates the possibility of schools not accurately reporting criminal activities on their campuses, whether intentionally or unintentionally. This analysis and comparison of New England's Clery data is an attempt to expose the system and provoke further investigation into campus crime and how it is handled.  

To see how New England's colleges ranked, go here. 

 

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