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How Safe Are America's Colleges?
New Web site lists crime statistics from over 6,000 campuses 
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How safe are students at American colleges and universities? A new Web site from the Department of Education answers that by providing campus crime statistics for 6,000 schools.

The OPE Campus Security Statistics Website from the Office of Postsecondary Education provides detailed statistics on criminal offenses, hate crimes, and arrests made on- and off-campus for the years 1998, 1999 and 2000.

The 6,269 institutions covered include major colleges and universities, smaller liberal arts colleges, community and junior colleges, and specialized trade schools and colleges.

"In the weeks ahead, students and parents around the country will be making important decisions about postsecondary education," stated Secretary of Education Rod Paige in a press release. "The security and safety on and around our college campuses is one of several factors they will consider. This Web site is a powerful tool that will help families make that important decision, providing them with the latest safety records of our colleges and schools."

The Web site provides the crime statistics reported by every postsecondary institution that participates in federal financial aid programs and includes separate data for each campus. The data are categorized under one of four locations where the crime occurred: residence halls, other on-campus locations, non-campus buildings or properties, or nearby public property.

Institutions are required to collect crime statistics and distribute an annual security report to current students and employees under the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act. The law was amended under the 1998 amendments to the Higher Education Act and requires the Education Department to collect the data from schools and make this information widely available.

This marks the second year that the department has collected the data and made it accessible via the Internet and is the earliest the department has ever provided the data to the public.

The law requires schools to report, by calendar year, annual data on alleged criminal offenses in the following categories: criminal homicide, negligent manslaughter, sex offenses, robbery, aggravated assault, motor vehicle theft, and arson. An institution must also report hate crimes based on race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity or disability; and arrests of persons referred for campus disciplinary action due to liquor and drug-law violations and weapons possession. The data are listed for the three most recent years (1998, 1999, and 2000); however, arson and negligent homicide were not required to be reported in 1998.

The statistics represent alleged criminal offenses reported to campus security authorities or local police agencies and do not necessarily reflect prosecutions or convictions for crime.

The law, which was originally enacted in 1990, was renamed in 1998 in memory of Jeanne Clery, a student murdered in her dorm room on a university campus.

"I applaud the tireless efforts of Jeanne's parents, Connie and Howard Clery, and the thousands of other parents and crime victims who have worked with them," Paige said. "They have turned their grief into advocacy for a law that opens the book on the safety of our college campuses. Now, the American people are empowered with the information they need to make informed decisions about campus safety."

Also See: The IPEDS College Opportunities On-Line Web site
Another service of the Department of Education, this site details tuition, housing, books and other expenses associated with registration and attendance at over 9,000 colleges and universities in the United States. If you are thinking about a large university, a small liberal arts college, a specialized college, a community college, a career or technical college or a trade school, you can find information about them all here.

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