Campus crimes are on the rise according to a 2010 report released by the U.S. Department of Education, the Secret Service and the FBI.
The report, titled Campus Attacks: Targeted Violence Affecting Institutions of Higher Education, was released in response to the Virginia Tech incident that occurred in 2007 when VT student Seung-Hui Cho went on a campus shooting spree, killing 32 students and faculty.
The incident not only sparked a federal investigation into crimes in higher education learning environments, but also sparked alarm in college students across the country, including Nathan Nunez, former student of Amarillo College.
“I think the Virginia Tech debacle is a good indicator of how fragile campus security is,” Nunez said via Facebook. “Campus police can hardly be expected to be in every hall, dorm and classroom.”Criminologist and Associate Professor of Criminal Justice and Sociology Dr. Keith Price said, however, that even considering VT, there has not been a massive amount of crime upswings on college campuses nationwide.
“There were several lives that were lost (at VT),” Price said. “Those are statistically insignificant looking at the whole crime picture. Scientifically, that’s a bleep that is .001 percent of violent crime in the United States.”
Though WT is no stranger to violent crimes on campus, property crimes have been more of an issue since last year as the number of reported stolen personal items such as backpacks, laptops, and iPads increased.
“Traditionally our biggest issue has been property crimes and when we’re talking property crimes, we’re generally talking burglaries and theft,” Lieutenant Patrick Coggins, director of police operations at WT, said.
The University Police Department has been trying to implement efforts for theft and burglary prevention on campus, especially for residence halls.
“Lock it or Lose it is the most recent one we’re getting out there,” Coggins said. “Secure your property…even if you just go down to take a shower or brush your teeth, take the time to secure your room because the statistics would indicate a lot of these crimes are opportunistic, when people find stuff unlocked.”
Despite the overall increase in crimes on campuses nationwide, students at WT have not felt the effects of such an increase.
“I haven’t really noticed too much,” Sophomore Engineering and Technology Major, Dustin Dickson, said. “I’ve heard of it here and there, but I feel like [the UPD] lets everyone know pretty well by email.”
Though Price said that statistically, crime rates for college campuses have not had a massive increase, the possibility of another shooting on campus could still happen.
“Look at our campus,” Price said. “Can anybody walk on this campus that wants to? Can they bring a duffle bag with a machine gun when they come? Could that happen right here today? Of course it could.”
Coggins assured students that despite the general increase in campus crime, WT is safely secure within the confines of a small community whose crimes rates are significantly lower than larger towns.
“Canyon, Texas is just safer in general,” Coggins said. “If you take the crime statistics of Canyon, Texas and compare them to even the closest big city, Amarillo, you’ll see that Canyon itself has a lower instance of violent crime.”