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Compared to the national averages, Boulder and the CU campus are moderately safe communities.
In general, college campuses are safer than the U.S. at large, with murder rates 44 times lower and aggravated assault rates 13 times lower on college campuses. However, colleges themselves can vary greatly in regards to criminal activity.
There are two common statistics used to determine safety rankings. One, the Clery Act, which was signed into law in 1990, requires universities to submit annual information regarding campus crime, and reflects crime rates solely within the university borders. The second method is the annual FBI statistics, which includes crime reported in the surrounding areas where the colleges reside.
In looking at rankings based off of data from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports—and evaluated on a per capita basis—“Business Insider” found the most dangerous school in the country to be University of California, Los Angeles. With a student body of 38,157, the school reported an average of 49 violent crimes and 921 property crimes from 2008-2011.
Alternatively, CU did not appear in the list of the top 25 most dangerous colleges, and with a student body of 25,805, reported an average of 11 violent crimes and 566 property crimes from 2008-2010. Theft was by far the most commonly committed crime.
When using statistics based on the Clery Reports, Howard University takes the top spot, followed by University of Rochester and Vanderbilt University. CU is again not listed in the top 25.
“Our crime level tends to be at or below the level of universities of a similar size,” Robert Axmacher, Commander and member of the CU Police Department since 1997, said.
Looking at the city of Boulder at large, there is a general increase in criminal activity, but also a downward trend in total crimes committed over the past year. The most common crime was larceny, with 1,924 reports in 2011, followed closely by public drunkenness, with 1,551 people taken to a detox facility in the same year.
In comparison with other schools in Colorado, CU again falls in the middle. Although CU had more total on-campus crimes than either DU or CSU from 2009-2011, its per capita crime rate was significantly lower than DU and only a fraction more than CSU. CU also has the largest student body.
Even across the CU campus, crime rates vary. Darley North and South had the highest occurrences of theft last semester, 17, while Libby had only 4. These thefts include those outside the building, and Axmacher speculates that many of these were bike thefts from the racks outside the dorms.
There are opportunities for miscalculation in each of these processes. Some schools may be negligent in reporting crime, while many may vary in their inclusion of crime committed in off-campus housing. For more information on how these stats were compiled, look here.
Contact CU Independent Copy Editor Kelly Katz at Kelly.firstname.lastname@example.org.