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slides: The 100 Most Dangerous College Campuses in New England

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

 

How safe--or unsafe--are the college campuses in New England?

The question is a challenging--and controversial--one to answer. 

Crimes ranging from property crimes of burglary, car theft and even arson, to violent crimes including aggravated assault, robbery, sexual offenses, manslaughter and murder occur on the region's campuses and since 1990 must be reported by each educational institution to the US Department of Education, as mandated by the Clery Act.

For more background on the Clery Act, go here.

Those numbers, broken down by campus, by year, are all available to the public. What is known as the Clery database formed the basis for GoLocal's first ever look at the incidence of crimes as reported by each campus in New England, and an assessment of crime rates based on each college's enrollment, to form a statistically comparable basis for ranking.

To compare New England's colleges, GoLocal obtained Clery data for the most recent 3 years (2011, 2010, and 2009) for every New England college of more than 500 students, in the 9 criminal categories as defined by the Clery Act's guidelines: Murder/Non-negligent manslaughter, Negligent manslaughter, Sex offenses - Forcible, Sex offenses - Non-forcible, Aggravated assault, Burglary, Motor vehicle theft, Arson, and Robbery.

GoLocal computed an average number of crimes per annum based on 3 years history and computed a crime rate per capita based on enrollment data provided by the institution to the US Dept. of Education. GoLocal weighted each of the 9 categories and combined those weightings to compute a GoLocal Crime Index, which was used to rank the colleges. 

For more details on GoLocal's methodology, go here. 

Reporting crimes on campus

The US Department of Education's Clery database is both illuminating in its expansiveness, but challenging in the reporting that informs its data. Longtime concerns have existed about how well each college does or does not comply with the admittedly complex Clery requirements of what constitutes each crime, and how it must be counted (a 285-page handbook exists to guide schools in compliance).

Further, a surge in campus-based outrage both in New England and nationwide has called many college's attitudes about criminal activities on its campuses into question. A former Amherst College student's account of her rape and the school's inhibiting response, cracked open a series of allegations about the highly regarded small liberal arts college's handling--and reporting--of sexual assault.

On the heels of the Amherst revelations, a group of sexual assault survivors at UNC-Chapel Hill has filed a complaint with the US Department of Education; a second complaint alleges that the school did not comply with the Clery Act's requirements. Investigations are underway.

Counting crimes via Clery

Against this background, GoLocal's inquiry into the Clery data is to both compare reported crimes of all varieties at New England's colleges, but to expose the data itself. We have included the 2011 data for each campus, to give readers a sense of how many--or few--crimes are being registered by schools. 

See what the Clery data reveals and hear students from local schools talk about what they think of the crime and reporting on their campuses. Find out how schools of all sizes look when their data is exposed and assessed. The topic has never been more timely. 

Note: All data presented is from the US Department of Education's Campus Safety and Security Data Analysis Cutting Tool, or Clery database. GoLocal's Crime Index reflects a statistical analysis of each school's criminal incidence based on a weighted set of per-capita crime rates (for more on GoLocal's Crime Index, go here).

 

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