Report: Campus crime unchanged
By Colin Barry, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Friday, October 3, 2003
The Department of Safety and Security released its annual federally-mandated report on College crime on Wednesday, but the value of the disclosure may be limited by reporting procedures that vary widely by institution.
The so-called Clery report -- consisting of yearly statistics on reported crimes as well as security policy statements -- revealed little change in the frequency or severity of campus misdeeds from last year. However, some Dartmouth figures, notably those related to undergraduate alcohol violations, were much higher than at most peer institutions.
Dartmouth security employees referred 243 on-campus liquor policy violations to the Dean of the College in 2002, slightly up from 231 the year before. In contrast, Brown's campus police reported 65 alcohol violations and Harvard's recorded only 62, according to statistics included in Clery reports from last year.
Taken at face value, the numbers would seem to suggest that Dartmouth is a college full of lushes. The truth, however, may be more mundane. Different institutions have greatly dissimilar reporting policies, which shape the final disclosed figure.
"Numbers vary from one institution to another and it has to do with how they internally choose to define what is reported or what isn't," Dean of Residential Life Martin Redman said.
Yale, for example, publicly records only liquor infractions that result in disciplinary referrals, according to its 2001 Clery report. Harvard reports only infractions that resulted in a police arrest or the convening of an administrative board. Thus, Redman said, reports of alcohol violations from other peer institutions may be of limited value.
"If you've got friends at Harvard, they're probably drinking about as much as our students are," Redman said.
Indeed, Princeton's Clery report revealed 244 referrals for liquor infractions in 2001, a figure more in line with Dartmouth's statistics. Princeton, like Dartmouth, reports every incident recorded by its Department of Public Safety.
Director of Safety and Security Harry Kinne suggested that part of the reason for Dartmouth's comparatively high alcohol violation figures might be differing state liquor laws.
"For instance, in the state of Connecticut, there is no law against public intoxication. In New Hampshire, there is," Kinne said.
Varying college administration rules regarding alcohol might also account for part of the discrepancy; Dartmouth's alcohol policies could be stricter than those of other schools.
"Some institutions may prohibit alcohol from being in a [campus] building, other colleges may not," Kinne said.
The Clery report includes data on violent crimes and incidents of sexual abuse as well as alcohol violations. As in previous years, Safety and Security reported no complaints of violent crime, arson or weapons policy violation during 2002.
The Sexual Abuse Awareness Program also issued figures on reported occurrences of rape, attempted rape and other unwanted sexual contact this week. Figures were generally consistent with last year's data.
Reports of alleged rape have somewhat declined in recent years -- SAAP officials indicated that they received reports of 14 rapes in the last 12 months, as compared to 27 during an equivalent period six years ago.