Wednesday, November 21, 2001

Area campuses report crime figures

Theft typical; offenses vary year to year

By Ben L. Kaufman
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Sexual violence reports were rare and thefts again dominated 2000 crime reports posted by Tristate colleges and universities.

        Unguarded book bags, laptop computers and bicycles remain popular targets of opportunity, along with portable anythings left in unlocked dorm rooms.

        The University of Cincinnati reported higher numbers of robberies, assaults, burglaries and arsons per 1,000 students than many large college campuses in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana.

Crime on Tristate campuses in 2000
        The school had two forcible sex offenses, six stolen vehicles, seven robberies, 15 aggravated assaults and 87 burglaries in 2000.

        Still, UC undergrad Toni Workman, 18, a sports medicine freshman from Mount Carmel, Ill., said Tuesday her first quarter has been free of crime or threats.

        Ms. Workman, who lives with three other women in UC's Daniels Hall, knows no one who has been assaulted or victimized by theft. She said the only place she wouldn't walk alone at night was off-campus on Short Vine “because I'm a girl.”

        Tristate data were among those from 6,269 colleges, universities and career schools collected by the U.S. Department of Education and posted on the Internet ( Congress ordered the exercise to help students and parents assess the relative safety of the nation's campuses.

        National numbers were first released last fall by the Education Department, although schools have made statistics available for a decade.

        Shifts in the past 12 months were minimal on Tristate campuses given the small number of crimes reported.

        Those numbers, however, demonstrated the seesaw nature of the reporting system. For example, UC reported six robberies in 1998, then three in 1999. It reported 21 aggravated assaults in 1998 but only seven in 1999.

        “Those numbers are pretty low if you consider us a city of 50,000,” said Eugene Ferrara, UC police chief. “The numbers are pretty much what they were last year.”

        Doug Keefe, 18, a UC pre-engineering freshman from Washington Township in Warren County,has had a brush with crime. “A kid down the hall” took a videotape without asking, but he returned it without a confrontation.

        Miami University's bucolic Oxford campus reported three robberies, compared with two and one in previous years, and 50 burglaries, against 53 and 12 in previous years.

        Northern Kentucky University saw burglary reports rise from 12 to 15, but that was less than the 17 two years earlier. Similarly, aggravated assaults jumped to eight last year, compared with one the previous year but nine in 1998.

        NKU freshmen interviewed Tuesday on campus they had lost nothing, although sometimes leaving their dorm rooms unlocked.

        Jonathan Cassedy, 18, a computer science major from Delhi Township, doesn't lock up “if I leave the room for five minutes or less.”

        Reported forcible sex offenses — including rape and aggressive groping — on area campuses were few two at UC, one at Miami and the College of Mount St. Joseph; and none at NKU, Cincinnati State Technical & Community College, Thomas More College and Xavier University.

        DOE's Web site urged readers to use the numbers cautiously because they were based on unverified reports to campus authorities and do not reflect arrests or convictions.

        Schools use the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting System definitions, but “ambiguities” remain about which crime reports must be passed on, DOE spokeswoman Jane Glickman said. “Off campus, the school defines it. That's one of the issues.”

        For instance, some Miami statistics reflect crime everywhere in Oxford without asking if a student was involved. UC excludes reported off-campus crimes unless they are in facilities such as sorority or fraternity houses.


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