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University crime rates alarming

Editorial | Crimes should be accurately reported to protect student safety

The Clery Report is out, and the University’s stats aren’t too surprising.

The report is intended to create transparency among college students on crimes happening on and around campus. It releases statistics of all reported incidents that took place within a yearly timespan.

The 2012 report found that burglary is the top crime on campus, increasing 21 percent from 2011.

Among notable statistics, reported hate crimes showed an increase from the prior year. There were 18 reported aggravated assaults and 19 reported forcible sex offenses, including rape, attempted rape and forcible fondling.

It’s exceptionally important for students to report incidents they experience in order to make these crime reports as accurate and effective as possible. But, it’s also important for them to be recorded in an accurate and effective way. As it stands, the way the Clery Report categorizes crimes is a bit problematic.

Some categories are very broad and overarching, limiting the ways in which crimes can be considered. For example, harassment may include threats, but does not include verbal harassment — an important point that would drastically skew the outcome. In the same way, all assaults, whether simple or aggravated, fall under “aggravated assault,” whether or not a weapon is present. These important details can have a grand impact on the analysis of crime rates.

We appreciate that the forcible sex offenses category is divided into offenses committed by acquaintances and those committed by strangers — a very crucial aspect of sex offenses that has helped inform the public of the nature of rape and to dispel preconceptions of it. Creating more subcategories can be equally as helpful for other types of crime and violence. There is no doubt that we can gain better insight on the real condition of such transgressions on our campus.

In the meantime, it’s vital that students take responsibility in preventing crime where possible. Rutgers University Police Chief Kenneth Cop asserts that most of the reported crimes take place when the opportunity presents itself. So, the University community should make a greater effort to not leave items unattended, to stay in groups and especially to take advantage of the many safety services available at our university. For example, we have a police escort service in place that students may call at late hours of the night if they don’t want to go somewhere by themselves, but not many people use or are even aware of it.

It would also help if the student body were alerted about crimes much more efficiently. Many times, crime reports are sent out after 24 hours of the crime taking place, well after the perceived danger has passed in whatever area it has occurred. More immediate reporting, such as instant crime alert texts or even a crime alert Twitter account, could be helpful in this regard.

Regardless, we hope that the student body stays safe — and that the perpetrators out there realize the real damage they’re causing to students’ livelihoods and perception of safety in a higher academic setting.

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