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Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The 25 Most Dangerous Colleges in America

The Daily Beast:

[H]ow do America’s colleges stack up against each other, safety-wise? Specifically, which schools have the worst crime records? For that determination, The Daily Beast decided to look at the numbers. Specifically, for the past two decades, most colleges and universities nationwide have been required under the federal Clery Act—named for a Lehigh freshman raped and murdered in her dorm in 1986 before her parents discovered there’d been a slew of violent incidents at the university—to report annually to the U.S. Department of Education about crimes on and near campus, including murder, assault, sexual offenses and robberies.

The Daily Beast took the two most recent years of raw data from almost 9,000 schools and then further analyzed more than 4,000 (excluding two-year colleges, standalone graduate schools, etc.) over more than 50 different criteria, weighing different crimes against each other (murder carrying far more importance than, say, burglary), and factoring in incidents both on campus and nearby (since modern colleges, as everyone acknowledges, don’t stop strictly at the gates of the ivory towers). Local FBI data was also used to make the statistics as up-to-date as possible. (See full methodology below.) Schools were also judged on a students-per-capita basis so that large universities like Michigan State weren’t penalized when compared with small colleges like Amherst.

For a detailed description of the methodology, see here.

Here are the 25 most dangerous colleges in America:

  1. Emerson (Boston, MA)
  2. St. Xavier (Chicago, IL)
  3. Maryland-Baltimore (Baltimore, MD)
  4. Tufts (Medford, MA)
  5. MIT (Cambridge, MA)
  6. Maryland-Eastern Shore (Princess Anne, MD)
  7. Grambling State (Grambling, LA)
  8. South Carolina State (Orangeburg, SC)
  9. Bowie State (Bowie MD)
  10. North Carolina Central (Durham, NC)
  11. Fitchburg State (Fitchburg, MA)
  12. Illinois Institute of Technology (Chicago, IL)
  13. Hampton (Hampton, VA)
  14. Baltimore (Baltimore, MD)
  15. Norfolk State (Norfolk, VA)
  16. California State-Monterey Bay (Monterey Bay, CA)
  17. Springfield (Springfield, MA)
  18. Brown (Providence, RI)
  19. Buffalo State (Buffalo, NY)
  20. Harvard (Cambridge, MA)
  21. Alabama A&M (Huntsville, AL)
  22. New Jersey Institute of Technology (Newark, NJ)
  23. Yale (New Haven, CT)
  24. UC-Riverside (Riverside, CA)
  25. College of Saint Rose (Albany, NY)

For criticism of the methodology, see

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Will someone call you a racist for including black colleges on this list, even though omitting them would make the list quite shorter?

Posted by: Woody | Sep 24, 2009 12:34:52 PM

Given how bad the methodology is for this "study" I think posting it on a scholarly blog is a miatake. As The Globe points out only 6 of the 160 cirmes that happened on the streets outsude of Emerson and in the Common across the street involved Emerson students yet all 160 were counted as part of the school's profile. Must be a bad day for tax gossip and news.

Posted by: Bill Turnier | Sep 24, 2009 2:29:20 PM

Any list of most dangerous colleges that omits the University of Chicago seems wrong on its face.

Posted by: Adam | Sep 24, 2009 2:35:39 PM

I doubt eliminating the "black" colleges would make the list of the "25 most dangerous colleges" shorter. *eyeroll*

Posted by: Anonymous | Sep 24, 2009 3:11:31 PM

What will someone call you for suggesting that omitting one category of college would have any effect on the length of a top 25 list?

Posted by: a man | Sep 24, 2009 3:18:54 PM

Lesson: Some colleges are much better about reporting crime statistics than others.

Posted by: Matt | Sep 24, 2009 3:22:03 PM

I agree with the criticisms. Because the statistics count all crimes in the vicinity, divided by the number of students at the school, the rankings vastly overstate the danger of schools in urban settings and understate the danger of schools in rural settings. The Daily Beast should either have (1) divided crimes in the vicinity by people in the vicinity, including students, or (2) divided crimes against students by the number of students. Had they done so, they would have come up with radically different rankings.

This kind of clueless math has the potential to do enormous damage, while providing virtually no useful information to its target audience.

Posted by: Theodore Seto | Sep 24, 2009 4:40:00 PM

This list is laughable.

Posted by: nate | Sep 24, 2009 5:40:34 PM

Any list that includes Yale and Harvard but excludes Rutgers-Camden is OK with me.

Posted by: mike livingston | Sep 24, 2009 7:10:20 PM

No Columbia or U Chicago?

Posted by: passing through | Sep 25, 2009 4:55:30 AM

This whole affair shows how much we will all miss the old newspapers when they go. The Daily Beast is a piece of rubbish. Tina Brown, in stating how fabulous it is, has indicated that the whole key is to "seduce your audience." Note no notion of acuracy or integrity. The internet as a source of information is a case of garbage in and garbage out. Tufts is another example of a school which is not as bad as reported. The Sommerville Projects are close enough to the school to make project crimes in the streets attributable to Tufts regardless of whether students are involved. The problem gets compounded when a normally reliable site like this picks up and posts such junk. Fortunately the link to The Globe which showed how bad the Daily Beast methodology is was provided on Tax Prof. Unfortunately The Globe seems to be on the way out. It comes as no surprise that stories get posted at sites without careful checking of the accuracy of what is posted. Given the emphasis on speed at net sites this is inevitable. I only expect it to get worse.

Posted by: Bill Turnier | Sep 25, 2009 7:50:12 AM

Clearly, some of you guys have let politically-correctness of universities rub off on you. Okay, race has nothing to do with crime. Happy?

Posted by: Woody | Sep 25, 2009 9:56:25 AM

You have to be kidding to put Emerson up there on that list. We just happen to be located on the Boston Common, and some other shadier areas, including a couple of popular bars. When we heard we were number one in America, students couldn't help but laugh. American colleges must be pretty goddamn safe. I'm only nervous after 2 AM because its a city, not because the campus is dangerous

Posted by: Emerson Student | Sep 29, 2009 10:05:50 PM