AGGRAVATED ASSAULTS, BURGLARIES PRIMARY UNIVERSITY ISSUE
Chancellor Rita Cheng said in her State of the University Address Sept. 5 that crime rates at SIU are normal in comparison to other similarly sized universities. However, some universities in Illinois have higher crime rates in relation to different offenses.
Reports from SIU’s Department of Public Safety from 2008 to 2010 show 24 forcible sexual assaults, 23 cases of aggravated assault, 237 burglaries, 90 liquor law violations, 195 drug law violations, and one illegal weapons possession on campus.
Some of these crime statistics are lower than reports at other state universities.
From 2008 to 2010, Northern Illinois University reported a higher number of incidents in the aggravated assault, illegal weapon possession and liquor law violation categories. NIU reported the same number of forcible sexual assaults as SIUC and a lower number of drug law violations and burglaries.
In the same years, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign reported fewer aggravated assaults than SIUC by 11 incidents, but every other category was higher.
Enrollment numbers at U of I and NIU in 2010 were 31,252 and 23,850, respectively. SIU’s fall 2010 enrollment was 20,350.
Although there is no direct correlation between enrollment and crime rates, there can be more opportunities for crimes on a larger campus.
While reports from U of I and NIU were similar to SIU, campuses including Western Illinois University and Eastern Illinois University had lower crime reports.
WIU reported fewer aggravated assaults, forcible sexual assault and burglary incidents. The university did not have information available for the other categories.
EIU reported fewer crimes in all of the categories from 2008-2010.
Both EIU and WIU reported enrollment numbers between 11,000 and 12,000 students in 2010.
Russell Thomas, all-hazards preparedness resource coordinator for DPS, said the largest issue DPS faces is to educate students and faculty more about crime prevention. He said DPS tries to increase the amount of crime prevention programs on campus and locations they are offered such as residence halls. He also said the department offers professionals to engrave initials into items for students to help identify stolen objects.
Thomas said students should lock their doors, too, when they leave their residence and be aware of guests to prevent burglaries. He said it’s also a good idea to write down the serial number of electronics’ serial numbers to help track them.
The best way to prevent aggravated assaults, Thomas said, is to travel with a friend or a group. He said this will not completely prevent assaults from happening, but it will lower the chances.
Some students and faculty said they believe they are safe on campus.
Rod Sievers, university spokesman, said the DPS has provided a safe campus to students and has taken a proactive approach to safety on campus.
“These guys are professionals,” he said. “They take their jobs very seriously.”
Sievers said the largest crime DPS deals with is burglaries, and he thinks it can be lowered if more people are educated about ways to prevent them.
Genevieve Horan, a graduate student from Chicago studying public administration, said she feels safe on campus, but she would feel safer taking her night classes if there were more lights and emergency phones on campus. She said she never sees campus police unless they are writing parking tickets.
Morgan Smith, a freshman from Harriman studying special education, said SIUC is a safe campus, and campus police do not need to do much to improve campus safety. Smith said she does not think campus police have done a good job preventing parties and their injuries, though.
Tonya Hamilton, a freshman from Chicago studying psychology, said the campus could use more patrols at night, but she still feels safe walking around campus. She said she thinks campus police are doing a good job keeping students safe.