WCU Publishes Annual Safety Report

Western Carolina University recently released its annual safety report. The report follows guidelines set up by the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (formerly the Campus Security Act), which requires that all colleges and universities publish crime statistics for their campuses.

Jeanne Clery, for whom the act was named, was a freshman at Lehigh University in 1986. Shortly after spring break she was found beaten, raped, and murdered in her room. Clery?s parents sued Lehigh University for negligence because Clery?s killer had gained access to her residence hall through doors that had been propped open by pizza boxes.

Clery and her parents were unaware of the high crime rate and lack of security on Lehigh?s campus. At the time, Lehigh only had 12 security guards for 5400 students. Clery?s killer was convicted in 1987 and is currently serving on death row. Clery?s parents began to push for legislation that required schools to publish their crime statistics.

University crime reports by law are required to cover every crime that has taken place within the last three years. However, some schools have been using loopholes to get around the requirement. These universities feel that if they report these crimes, prospective students and their parents will be scared away.

Universities have, in the past, not reported crimes that occurred on public roads that cross their campuses, crimes that have occurred in fraternity or sorority houses, and rapes and crimes that were reported to rape centers and local authorities instead of campus security. However, schools that are caught under-reporting crimes can be fined $25,000 per misreported figure, and recent legislation has removed common loopholes.

WCU?s statistics include off-campus buildings that are owned by the University and locations that are being used by registered student organizations. In 1999 there were two forcible sex offenses, two aggravated assaults, 35 burglaries, three arsons, 45 liquor law violations, 32 drug-related violations, and three weapon possessions. There were no homicides, no non-forcible sex offenses, no robberies, no vehicles were stolen, and no hate crimes. These statistics are for the 1998-99 year.

A recent USA Today article gave suggestions on how students could remain safe. It suggests that freshmen should refrain from having photos and personal identification published because they could be ?targeted? through them. They also recommend sharing schedules with family and friends, reporting broken locks, never lending out room keys, and locking doors.

WCU’s annual report includes a section detailing what a student should do if they are part of, witness to, or are a victim of a crime. The report also states the hours that campus buildings are open and when they are locked. Broken locks and street lights should be reported to the Physical Plant or University Police.