New crime stats mark increase in burglaries, alcohol usage

Kathleen Dooley

On-campus crime is often the last thing on the minds of University students. Set in the affluent Main Line suburbs, the University often sees itself as a community set apart from crime. In some cases, this is correct.

Recently, the Department of Public Safety released the University’s crime statistics for the past three years. In 2001, on-campus burglary had increased, arrests for liquor violations had risen and referrals of both liquor and drug violations had gone up from the 2000 statistics. While drug related violations and burglary have been increasing steadily over the past three years, arrests for liquor violations and liquor violation referrals were up again, after declining in 2000 from their 1999 levels.

However, reported accounts of forcible sex offenses, aggravated assault and arrests for weapons possessions had decreased from their 2000 statistics.

In addition, the University has not had any cases of murder, manslaughter, non-forcible sex offenses, referrals of weapons possession or hate crimes in the past three years.

A federal law requires all colleges and universities to report crime statistics yearly. Director of Public Safety Jeffrey Horton cautions against reading too much into the crime statistics per year, saying that the 2001 statistics have remained constant with statistics from previous years. “Some of the numbers go up and down each year. I try not to draw too much information from them because some years, we have a few more of each crime than others,” he said. “We are very fortunate that our numbers are what they are.”

Both Horton and Rev. John Stack, O.S.A, vice president for Student Life, stated that the slight increase in burglaries and alcohol and drug related offenses could be attributed to the number of students living on campus. With the completion of the West campus apartments last year, approximately 4,400 students now live on campus, more than ever before.

In addition, drug and alcohol offenses are largely reported by resident assistants, which Horton stated could go up or down depending on individual strictness.

Stack agreed, stating, “What people decide to report, and how things are reported, effects how something is classified.”

As in other years, the number of alcohol violation referrals has dwarfed all other categories. In 2001, there were 575 reported alcohol violations on-campus. The second-largest category was burglary, of which there were 61 reported cases.

Last year, all freshmen were required to participate in an alcohol awareness program aimed to decrease the number of liquor violations and referrals on campus. “The progress of this program is difficult to measure,” Stack said. “But the more information people have about substance abuse … even if it gets someone to drink less or not try a particular kind of drug, will help them.”

In addition, Stack said that alcohol abuse is a national problem among college-aged students.

Stack also stated that students should be aware of crime on campus, especially in regard to theft. “Most students think of Villanova as a safe place…there is a myth that things that go wrong here are more likely to be from outsiders, not students,” he said.

“By far, the majority of reportable crimes have been committed by other students as opposed to an outsider.”

Stack also mentioned that as technology increases, more valuable items are being burglarized. Laptops serve as a prime example of this.

According to Horton, University students are often diligent about reporting on-campus crimes. “I think people know that if they’re the victim of a crime here, they need to let us know as soon as possible,” he said.