Drop in campus crime chalked up to safety, awareness

Drop in campus crime chalked up to safety, awareness

October 24
23:59 2012

Jason Yang / Senior Staff Writer

UNT administrators and police attributed a drop in campus crime to awareness programs and university resources that emphasize student safety.

In 2011, campus crime dropped by about 13 percent from the previous year, and the number of disciplinary referrals – cases where students are not charged with a crime but referred to the university – dropped by about 8 percent, according to the annual 2012-2013 Jeanne Clery Report.

The UNT Police Department and Dean of Students Office recorded a total of 261 crimes and 179 disciplinary referrals in 2011, down from 306 and 194, respectively, in 2010.

Crime statistics include reported crimes committed by non-students on or near campus, while disciplinary referrals are only issued to students on campus, mostly for drug-related offenses or underage drinking.

Most disciplinary referrals are issued to students living in residence halls on campus, usually for drug or alcohol-related offenses.

Cpl. John DeLong, community relations officer for the UNT Police Department, noted that the national crime rate has also dropped over the last several years.

“It’s always good to see the crime rate drop,” DeLong said. “But we don’t pinpoint any crime because we treat each case with the same urgency.”

There were no reported sex offenses in 2009 or 2010, but the annual Clery Report recorded three reports of sex offenses in 2011. DeLong said that number was slightly misleading, because two of the offenses were found to have been falsely reported.

The University of Texas at Arlington, a nearby university with about 2,000 fewer students than UNT, recorded 137 campus crimes and 123 disciplinary referrals in 2011, according to the Clery Report.

However, UNT has a slightly larger campus and a significantly larger number of students living on campus, which likely accounts for the university’s higher campus crime rate.
DeLong said students had a major role in campus safety.

“Personal safety starts with students, so they need to be more aware of their surroundings,” he said. “In an emergency, they can call the police department, an officer or someone from the awareness program.”

Maureen McGuinness, dean of students and assistant vice president for student affairs, said UNT has been doing everything it can to ensure students are safe and responsible. Incoming and transfer students younger than 21 are required to take AlcoholEDU, a two-hour, two-part exam on alcohol. About 4,993 students took the exam this semester.

The Substance Abuse Resource Center also hosts activities that raise student awareness about the dangers of alcohol and drug use, McGuinness said.

“I think it shows our commitment to educate our students to be safe, and we’re always going to be cautious and safe instead of not informing the students,” she said.

Creative writing sophomore Hailey McNutt currently lives off campus, but spent a year living in an on campus residence hall. She said she always felt safe on campus and applauded the university’s efforts to keep students safe.

For more information on crime awareness, visit sarc.unt.edu or contact the Dean of Students Office at (940) 565-2648.

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