By ROBBIE SHIVER
School of Communication
University of Miami
While safety is certainly on the mind of nearly every parent that sends his or her child off to college, it is usually not a main priority for the actual student.
“I remember the only time I ever thought about how safe a school is, was when my mother brought it up,” said Spencer Pearman, a junior at University of Miami from Gaithersburg, Md.
Pearman chose the University of Miami, a private school, over James Madison University, a public school in Virginia that is closer to home and where his older brother attended.
There are many positives to private schools such as small class sizes, generally smaller student bodies, and well-respected academics that attract students from all over the country. University of Miami has a student body of about 15,000 students with about 49 percent coming from outside of Florida. Because of this, the safety of students on campus becomes even more important to families.
When compared to similar private schools in either urban settings or suburban settings right outside of a city, UM fairs favorably in terms of on-campus Residence Hall safety. According to numbers accumulated from the U.S. Office of Post Secondary Education’s (OPE), campus safety and data analysis-cutting tool from 2006-08, when compared to Southern Methodist University (SMU), and Boston College (BC), University of Miami ranked as the safest school with an average of just 1.32 burglaries per year for every 1,000 students.
Fortunately, for each school involved, the OPE data shows the pattern of crime to be one largely based on burglaries instead of murders and assaults. In fact, throughout the three-year span in which the data cover, not one murder occurred on any of the three campuses.
At SMU, there was a ratio of 1.82 burglaries to every 1,000 students over the past three years. Still, SMU ranked between UM and BC in Residence Hall safety.
“Twenty burglaries a year seems like a lot,” said SMU senior Lele Chappell, who said she was unaware of the safety numbers. “Where we rank is not as worrisome as the actual amount of crime being committed on campus. It (the crime data) is especially scary for girls.”
SMU is located in the metropolitan city of Dallas, which presents more complications for campus police and the University’s security
Boston College ranked as the least safe school with a ration of 2.31 burglaries per 1,000 students over the past three years.
This raises the question of whether the location their school location, a suburb just outside of Boston, actually presents more opportunity for campus crime.
Kane Kanagawa, a fifth-year senior at Boston College from Great Falls, Va., reflected that he “does not worry about crime such as burglaries because the important thing is to just be safe and remember to lock up all your stuff.”
In fact, Kanagawa did not feel that 34 burglaries was a very large number for an entire year, saying that “most of those burglaries could have been something minor.”
At University of Miami, the school with the best numbers in terms of on campus burglaries, it is the joint effort of campus police, student security late at night in the dorms, and students monitoring themselves that helps to keep UM relatively safe.
While most students may find these numbers insignificant, these are the types of factors that parents must consider strongly when helping their child select a school to attend.
Fortunately the majority of these numbers were very low, however it is a continued effort to make sure that schools, and all the students remain safe.