Recently, the West Chester University Department of Public Safety released the figures and statistics from 2008 in accordance with the Clery Act. This act requires universities who participate in federal financial aid programs to record, detail and make available to the public information about criminal activity both on and around their campuses.
Offences such as aggravated assault, murder and manslaughter were nonexistent according to the department both on campus and in the surrounding community of students.
Only one case of robbery or attempted robbery occurred on public property and five others since 2006, painting a much different picture of robberies than the prevalent security alerts issued by public safety in previous semesters.
The most prevalent crimes affecting the university community were alcohol related violations, with 585 arrests and/or disciplinary referrals occurring, 256 of which being propagated on university grounds.
Statistically this makes one in every 51 on campus residents, faculty or staff a perpetrator of the crime.
The violations, which include the illegal sale, purchase, transportation, possession or consumption of alcohol, do not include public drunkenness, which went down from 21 to 19 cases, or driving under the influence, which fell by two from 14 to 12 incidents.
Last year there were 139 Class I offenses reported.
Included in this were eight forcible sexual offences in campus living facilities, which is double the amount reported last year.
Sexual offenses include rape, forcible sodomy, sexual assault with an object and forcible fondling. Last year there were five rapes out of 13,119 full-time students and employees. This means that one out of 2,624 students or employees were victims of a sex offender. More information regarding registered sex offenders can be found at http://www.pameganslaw.state.pa.us/.
Up from 52 in 2007, there were 63 burglaries reported in 2008; statistically meaning that one in 208 people has been burglarized while motor vehicle theft remained low and unchanged, with only one case reported annually for the last two years.
Larceny, a crime that was committed 65 times in 2007, fell to 60 last year, while cases of fraud nearly doubled from nine to 16 instances.
Fraud, defined in the report as the “fraudulent conversion and obtaining of money or property by false pretenses, confidence games and bad checks, except forgeries and counterfeiting,” now has the chance of affecting one out of every 820 full time equivalent population (consisting of fall semester student and employee population).
Fire preparedness and related statistics have also been provided by the department since 2005, numbers not required by the state for disclosure.
The data includes the number of drills carried out in residence halls and academic buildings as well as the source of fires on campus, be they accidental or intentional.
The actual occurrence of fires was generally low, with only minor or incidental levels of severity on campus, happening mostly outdoors in vegetation, mulch or vehicles.
Fire alarms were much more prevalent, with 247 set off accidently either by cooking, tobacco smoke or other means, and 38 by mechanical malfunctions, accidental activation by maintenance or other contractors.
The intentional activation of alarm systems as an act of vandalism or maliciousness however only stood at eight, however it represents a threefold increase since 2007.
The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistic Act was originally known as the Crime Awareness and Campus Security Act of 1990.
The Clery Act is named after the memory of Jeanne Ann Clery, a 19-year-old freshman who was raped and murdered while sleeping in her residence hall at Lehigh University on April 5, 1986.
Connie and Howard Clery discovered that the students were unaware of the 38 violent crimes on their daughter’s campus in the three years prior to her murder. Schools are now required to make timely warnings to the campus community about crimes that pose threats and employees.
The Department of Education can fine schools that do not comply with the Clery Act.
Kory Dench can be reached at KD608724@wcupa.edu.
Joli McCarthy is a fourth-year student majoring in English and minoring in journalism. She can be reached at JM625940@wcupa.edu.