Campus crime shifts in past year

Stephen Vitabile

Like any neighborhood or community, Villanova University is extremely concerned about public safety.

Because the security of any college community is such a serious issue, national law requires – in the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act – that college and university law enforcement agencies make reports of crime statistics available to the community annually.

A notice of the release of the report, as well as information about the University’s security policies and procedures for the three most recent calendar years, is e-mailed to all University students, staff and faculty.

Once the report has been released, it is available to all through the Department of Public Safety’s Web site or upon request through University Human Resources.

According to Public Saftey’s Crime Statistics Report, the number of burglaries and liquor law violations referrals and arrests have increased, while drug law violation referrals and arrests have decreased from 2005 to 2006.

Also, the number of forcible sex offenses remained the same from 2005 to 2006.

The number of reported burglary offenses has increased by over 35 percent over the past two calendar years.

There were a total of 27 burglaries on campus in the 2006 calendar year – an increase from the 20 burglaries reported in 2005.

For the purposes of the annual federal crime report, an incident of burglary is defined as entering any room or building in which one does not necessarily belong with the intention of theft, University Director of Public Safety David Tedjeske said.

The report also reflected an increase in liquor law violations on campus.

The number of liquor law violation referrals for 2006 was 906 – an increase of over 59 percent from the 792 referrals in 2005.

This is coupled with an even steeper increase of liquor law arrests. There were a reported 47 arrests in 2006 and only one arrest reported in 2005.

A liquor law violation referral is any citing made by a Public Safety officer or RA on campus. A liquor law arrest, for the purposes of the report, is defined as when a student is apprehended for such a violation by the public police bureaus, such as Radnor Township Police.

A contributing factor to why the number of liquor law referrals is so high is because a referral from any University source, be it Public Safety or Residence Life, is marked for each of the persons involved in the citing, Tedjeske said.

Though one citing may be written for a group of five residents found to be in the possession of and consuming alcohol, it counts for five referrals.

“Liquor offenses are common for this age in our society in general,” Tedjeske said. “These students are away from parental influence for the first time. It’s a result of this freedom.”

Tedjeske also said that Public Safety realizes that liquor law violations tend to be the most common offense on any campus and that when necessary measures are taken in detecting these offenses, other more serious offenses may be avoided.

“[The Department of Public Safety] is very proactive in regards to alcohol violations,” Tedjeske said. “There are many things consequential to alcohol violations like vandalism and sexual assault. Officers addressing the issue is vital.”

Also noted in the report are the numbers of drug law referrals and arrests, which are determined by the same means as liquor law violations.

The number of drug-related violation referrals for 2006 was 56 – a decrease of 12 percent from the total of 63 referrals in 2005.

The number of drug-related violation arrests for 2006 was two. The total number of arrests in 2005 was three.

The number of reported forcible sex offenses has remained the same in both 2006 and 2005 at four.

As defined by the report, a forcible sex offense is noted as rape or any indecent assault.

Though the number is low, it appears that the reported sex offenses do not accurately illustrate the actual figure of such offenses on any campus. This is due to the unwillingness of victims to come forward.

Knowing this, many public safety agencies focus on awareness of the issue and spreading knowledge that such offenses may be reported with safety and confidentiality.

“We are all but certain that the number of reported sexual assaults does not reflect the actual frequency despite our best efforts to ensure that students know that they can report confidentially to almost anyone on campus,” Director of Safety and Security at Haverford College Tom King wrote in an e-mail to The Villanovan.  “We want to ensure that victims/survivors get the help and are aware of resources in the event of an assault.  This is one of the things that most colleges and universities do well.”

King is the vice president of the Campus Security Directors Association of the Delaware Valley – in which Villanova Public Safety is represented – which meets regularly to discuss security issues and share information.

Haverford College, a Main Line school in close proximity to Villanova, experiences a much different range of numbers of offenses in comparison to Villanova. However, Haverford has a much smaller student body, with an undergraduate population of around 1,100.

For instance, the number of burglaries at Haverford in 2006 was 42, compared to Villanova’s 27. In the same year at Haverford, the total number of liquor law referrals was 31, while liquor law arrests totaled in 14, while Villanova had 906 referrals and 47 arrests for liquor violations in 2006.

“It’s difficult to explain fluctuations [in crime statistics] in a given year for any college,” Tedjeske said. “Another thing about trends that must be considered is that there is a new group of students every year that may contribute to the fluctuations.”

It is also worth noting, Tedjeske said, the number of students at a given school as well as its location.

“All colleges will experience similar numbers in statistics,” says Tedjeske. “All campuses are unique, but all will have some things in common that occur. It depends on setting and how many students are on campus.”