Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Crime Creeping Higher on Campuses: Hate Crimes Are Down, but Federal Reports May Not Be the Best Indicator

Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Crime Creeping Higher on Campuses: Hate Crimes Are Down, but Federal Reports May Not Be the Best Indicator

Article excerpt

On-campus arrests for alcohol violations are up significantly nationwide, but hate crimes--including those predicated on race--are declining, according to new data from the U.S. Department of Education. The number of students arrested for alcohol offenses on campus increased by 10 percent from 2003 to 2004, rising to more than 34,000, federal reports show. Colleges must report this data annually under the Clery Act, a federal law that requires crime reporting in specific categories.

Less-serious alcohol citations--incidents that fall short of arrest--also have increased steadily since 2002. Colleges reported 176,929 such violations in 2004, up 12,000 from the previous year and an increase of 28,000 since 2002, the department reports show.

Under the Clery Act, colleges have the flexibility to report lesser alcohol offenses in a separate category. In most cases, such citations are issued by campus security officers or other officials, and the citations usually bring internal disciplinary action within the college or university.

Safety advocates say the increases likely reflect increased enforcement by higher education institutions rather than a worsening of campus alcohol problems.

"We've been seeing this trend for some time," says Catherine Bath, executive director of Security on Campus, a Pennsylvania-based organization that promotes campus safety and tougher enforcement measures.

"I think campuses are getting tired of the drinking," she says, adding that many institutions are trying to change the culture on campus. "Universities want to be known as fine institutions of higher learning and not as drinking clubs."

The increases in arrests and citations follow several high-profile reports about binge drinking on college campuses. In 2002, Harvard University's College Alcohol Study concluded that 44 percent of college students were binge drinkers, or students who may consume five or more drinks at a single sitting.

However, other Harvard research shows that Black, Asian and female students generally have lower binge drinking rates compared with Whites and males. More diverse campuses also tend to have lower binge drinking rates, the university says.

In 2004, most on-campus arrests for alcohol occurred at public, four-year campuses. However, arrests at private institutions increased by 20 percent, double the rate of increase at public colleges.

The federal data show a significant decline in the number of hate crime incidents from 2002 to 2004. Nationwide, colleges reported only 20 aggravated assault hate crimes in 2004, compared with 168 in 2002, based on the federal data. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.