A 2018 study on the safest colleges in the United States, released by the National Council for Home Safety and Security, represented three Arizona universities in a false light for campus safety.
The study is now being called into question about the methodology used to rank the colleges.
Based on the list of 243 colleges represented on the website Alarm.org, the University of Arizona (UA) was 233, Arizona State University (ASU) was 187 and Northern Arizona University (NAU) was 156.
Arizona crime reports and statistics reveal flaws made within the study. The study merges both crimes on the university campus as well as the crimes reported in the city.
In the U.S., there are over 2,600 accredited universities, but the study by Alarm.org only takes into account 243 colleges. So the sample size that the researchers used within this study is unclear. Multiple attempts to reach the study’s authors failed.
The study factored in data from crime reports of each college, which are collected by the FBI and required of every university by the Clery Act.
George Eppley, a crime prevention officer at the University of Arizona Police Department (UAPD), saw the flawed study done by the National Council for Home Safety and Security. He was also in disbelief and questioned the methodology.
“When I saw that report that we had answered to, basically I was surprised, I was surprised. Of course, when you live in the bubble of your own little world you don’t realize how you compare to other colleges, because we don’t have the opportunity to go to those places,” Eppley said.
He says that due to the restrictions set by this study, no college within a large city would be able to place high in the rankings.
According to an investigation conducted by Arizona Sonora News, from 2007 to 2017 UAPD handled a total of 187 rape cases on campus. Within one square mile of the UA campus, the Tucson Police Department (TPD) investigated a total of 717 cases of sexual offense and assault during that same ten-year period.
State and city crimes do not reflect those within each campus, but the college safety study says they relate to campus safety.
Researchers from the National Council for Home Safety and Security were not willing to speak with Arizona Sonora News reporters about the methodology.
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Haley Cohn and Jessica Prettyman are reporters for Arizona Sonora News, a service from the School of Journalism with the University of Arizona. Contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.