US campus crime rankings spur new debate on their validity

December 4, 2012

One publication's list of "dangerous" US colleges has revived debate over whether the information on which it was based reflects actual danger or safety levels, and whether any crime data alone can evaluate campus safety. Business Insider recently published its list of the 25 "most dangerous colleges in America," based on FBI data, and the links and local newspaper articles began to spread. Then, facing considerable criticism from the California institutions that appeared on the top of the list, the publication calculated the most dangerous colleges using data required by the Clery Act, the federal law that requires PSE schools to report certain types of crime. Business Insider stands by the original rankings, noting that the Clery-based list "contains many of the same schools" as the FBI-based list. However, many of the institutions are in very different positions on the lists. There is the question of whether either ranking should be used, by itself, to judge PSE institutions. The director of The 32, the National Campus Safety Index of the VTV Family Outreach Foundation (a group of family members of victims and of survivors of the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting) says "you cannot look at statistics in a vacuum and say that any colleges are the most dangerous. I think these lists do a disservice to the consumer." Inside Higher Ed