The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Thursday January 20th

Site Shows Campus Crime Statistics

A recently unveiled U.S. Department of Education Web site allows users to review and compare crime reports for 3,380 colleges and universities nationwide but has hit some technological glitches.

The site, at http://www.ope.ed.gov/

security/search.asp, allows users to search for crimes that have occurred on college campuses and surrounding areas.

Site Coordinator Dan Madzelan said the site is designed to increase access to information about campus crimes.

But Madzelan said every time new data is added, the site's server crashes for a short time. He said fixing the problem will be difficult, but officials will continue adding data. "We'll see, over the next year, the response we get and how we want to be spending our resources (before we change the site)."

Despite the problem, he said users still could compare the crime reports.

But UNC-Chapel Hill police Lt. Angela Carmon said comparing crime statistics from different campuses is difficult. "Each college campus is going to be unique," she said. "In an urban area, crime statistics may fluctuate depending on what the surroundings are for that particular campus."

The Web site states that UNC-CH reported 56 burglaries and 15 motor vehicle thefts in 1999 - the last year for which the reports are available. By comparison, N.C. State University had 55 burglaries and 10 vehicle thefts in 1999.

N.C. State police Sgt. Jon Barnwell, a crime prevention officer, said student negligence and the school's location in downtown Raleigh contribute to the high figures. "Students come on campus and feel they're in a bubble and they let their guards down," Barnwell said. "We have an influx of people from Raleigh (committing crimes)."

Security on Campus Vice President S. Daniel Carter also said he had problems with the site. Security on Campus - an organization dedicated to preventing campus crime - lobbied for the 1998 Jeanne Clery Act, which required public access to college crime reports.

The act is named for a college student who was sexually assaulted and murdered at Lehigh University in 1986.

Carter said the campus crime reports, in their present state, are too difficult to compare and that Security on Campus is working to display the data on its Web site in a more user-friendly manner.

"People will be able to make better, well-informed decisions by comparing oranges to oranges," Carter said. "Before, it was just a hodgepodge of information. (On the Security on Campus site), it will be all in one place and more easily comparable."

He said he hopes the Web site will prevent future deaths by providing students with information about crimes.

But Madzelan said the data is organized to fit Department of Education guidelines and still is available to the public. "Anyone who would like to have these data can request them," Madzelan said. "We would likely honor it."

The State & National Editor can be reached at stntdesk@unc.edu.


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