How college newspapers covered the annual Clery campus safety report



Most college students understand the level of safety on their campus, but sometimes they can get a little too comfortable.

A much needed reminder of campus safety comes this week, as this past Monday was the deadline for colleges to release their annual crime report, as required by the Jeanne Clery Act. All colleges that except federal money, which includes almost all public and private colleges that accept federal financial aid, are required to release this report that chronicles the last three years’ worth of serious crime by category. The act is named after a Lehigh University student who was raped and murdered in her dorm room. Her death brought to light the university’s failure to report other serious crimes that occurred prior to her murder.

Below are examples of how college newspapers covered the crime report this year (spoiler alert: many of you used graphs):

  • The Daily Collegian (Penn State University): In the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky trial, the Department of Education began investigating Penn State in what campus security officials have described as the largest Clery investigation to date. To further investigate that theme, the Daily Collegian’s coverage of this year’s Clery report focuses in on reported forcible sexual offenses and the discrepancies in the report each year.
  • The Post (Ohio University): The front Page of The Post Monday featured a large graph describing the crime report by category. The corresponding article highlights the large increase in drug and alcohol violations in the past year.
  • The Michigan Daily (University of Michigan): The Michigan Daily’s crime report features a large graphic that maps out the past year’s crimes and compares them to previous years. Icons of different colors, such as plastic cups for liquor law violations and ski masks for burglary, represent different crimes that took place in four areas: residence halls, on-campus, non-campus property and public property.
  • The Daily Athenaeum (West Virginia University): The student reporter explained the rise in violations, while providing context and comments from the university police chief. Violations where a citation or arrest does not occur, but a resident assistant or police officer handles the issue on a case-by-case basis, are also lumped in with other crimes, according to the report.
  • The Daily Princetonian (Princeton University): The Daily Princetonian used a bar graph to illustrate the rise in drug violations and sex offenses as compared to years past. But the reporter continued to dig deeper into the report, uncovering that marijuana use was the highest, followed by opium and cocaine.
  • The Yale Daily News (Yale University): In The Yale Daily News' presentation of the crime report, journalists referred to an April poll conducted by the newspaper that asked students how safe they felt on campus. This technique shows how crime can effect the feeling on campus as a whole.
  • The Cavalier Daily (University of Virginia): Rather than focusing on which crimes are on the rise, Virginia's student newspaper highlighted that burglary and robbery declined between 2010 and 2012. A quote from the university police urged students to view the crime report, which showed the importance of understanding crime on your campus.
  • The Daily Egyptian (Southern Illinois University): Instead of just telling the reader that burglaries were on the rise at SIU, the reporter dug deeper and compared the number to other neighboring Illinois universities. Later in the article, a reference to a bomb threat on campus the previous year also helped put some of the numbers into perspective.
  • The Hoya (Georgetown University): Georgetown's report of the Clery findings compared each of its campuses in D.C. and abroad, noting that crime at the Law Center campus in downtown D.C. nearly tripled.
  • The Dartmouth (Dartmouth University): Dartmouth students must be angels, as The Dartmouth reported that liquor violations sharply decreased in 2011. Not so fast.  The article goes on to detail The Alcohol Diversions Program, a university program created in 2010 to help students who are caught violating liquor laws avoid receiving a citation.
  • The Spartan Daily (San Jose State): The report explains that most on-campus crime at San Jose State isn't committed by students, a reality that is probably present at many other schools but goes unreported. The story also highlighted the relationship between drug violations and burglaries, explaining that a crack down on drug dealing usually helps decrease other crimes as well.
  • The Daily Iowan (University of Iowa): By talking to campus administration, reporters at The Daily Iowan realized that the reason for the rise in liquor violations is that the university began enforcing the rules regarding underage drinking more in the past year.
  • The Daily Californian (University of California Berkeley): The newspaper used Venn diagrams to show how different crime categories, such as burglary and bike theft, overlap. The graphic explains that the overall number of crimes isn't as big as it seems.
  • The Daily Orange (Syracuse University): Syracuse reporters found internal judicial referrals for drug use doubled in 2011. The paper explained the circumstances under which drug violations are dealt with by the police or through the school's judicial system.
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Tagged: campus crime, College Student Media/Journalism, FOI, public records