Despite all the accomplishments NJIT and the city of Newark have made in reducing crime and increasing safety, students still show signs of concern regarding their saftey. Even before students arrive on campus, they are met with several warnings and stories about how dangerous Newark is, and how wary they need to be if they attend. The result is a culture of students being scared to leave the campus when they first arrive. Many students don’t leave campus until after the first few weeks, while others may not leave at all.
An optional survey conducted by the Student Senate in the Spring 2017 semester revealed how some students feel about campus safety, on a scale from 1 to 5. When asked how safe they feel on campus, over 120 responders rated safety at ‘4’, approximately 100 rated it ‘5’, and fewer than 40 rated safety at ‘3’. This shows students are confident in the safety on campus, but when asked how safe they felt off campus, approximately 100 rated it a ‘3’, 60 rated it at ‘2’, while fewer than 40 rated it at a ‘4’.
While students are confident with campus security, it is clear that there is still a lot to be done to make the area around campus more appealing. The question then becomes, how does NJIT compare to other colleges in major cities? For this comparison, Illinois Institute of Technology, a fellow tech school similar in size, and then larger and more populated campuses such as Penn State, NYU, and UC Berkeley, were chosen.
The website used to obtain statistics is “ope.ed.gov/campussafety”, which is run by the Department of Education. The DoE depends on colleges to report their crime data, and does not independently verify them. The crime statistics available through the DoE cover: Burglaries, Physical Assaults, and Robberies on campus, on campus living facilities, and on public property near campus. Disciplinary actions conducted on campus, mainly drug violations and liquor law violations on campus as well as in on-campus living facilities, are also available to all.
When directly compared to a similarly-sized learning institution in a large urban city, NJIT actually reported fewer burglaries, physical assaults, and robberies on campus across 2013, 2014, and 2015. Both universities also reported very little crimes in on campus student housing facilities. As for Public Property, both campuses reported a higher number of robberies than any other crime. Both reporting the same amount for 2013, while NJIT showing a drop in 2014 and 2015, while Illinois rose in reports for 2014 then dropped in 2015. For disciplinary actions, NJIT had much fewer liquor law violations across all 3 years both on-campus and in on-campus student facilities.
Compared to much bigger schools like Berkeley, NYU, and Penn State, NJIT reported less crime. In comparison to Penn State and Berkeley, NJIT had much less burglaries, robberies, and physical assaults. This is expected since larger schools have more students and are located in urban cities. The only major discrepancy comes from NYU, which reported much less crime than Penn State and Berkeley, and was similar to NJIT in terms of reports. As for disciplinary actions, as one would expect, NJIT reported fewer of them than any of the other school all three years in a row.
Each school is in charge of reporting their crimes and what is considered what type of crime varies from state to state, and where the cut-off is for reporting certain crimes’ locations also differs. Thus, it is critical to realize a lot of these differences can come from inconsistencies in reporting protocols. Another important point to note is that schools with more people and in larger cities tend to have more crime; it’s not necessarily that NJIT is a dangerous school, but more that Newark is a large city, and is therefore more susceptible to crime than smaller cities are.
The data presented is not supposed to imply that Newark is actually safe, and that precautions are not needed. The data serves to contextualize the crime rate in Newark and help students and faculty alike understand that it is simply part of living in large city.
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