Improving Campus Security: From Sexual Assault to High-Tech Thievery

Many problems still fueled by alcohol, but identity theft becomes the new wave


Schools, in Carter's opinion, can handle these assaults the right way. "A coordinated response like Harvard's office dedicated to help survivors through the trauma is appropriate and required by Title IX," be says. The wrong response not only further traumatizes students, it can land your school in PR hell, as is the case in Ohio State University's mishandling of a 2002 rape report. The school was sued underThe Cleary Act and profiled on a recent installment of Dateline NBC.

Yet even Marine admits that her program possesses neither the power to stop a rape from happening nor to hold rapists accountable. "We focus on being a safe place for students to report the incident and find out what she or he can do next," she says. "That doesn't translate to Greater safety" For that, she stresses common-sense safety precautions like well-lit buildings, trimmed bushes and vigilant access control. A more visible college police presence to keep outsiders off campus may also help, but as "80 percent of campus crime is student onstudent," according to Carter, it is not the only answer.

Identity Theft: The New Kid in Town

While theft, rape and assault have been problems for years, a new crime is grabbing headlines and making its way on campus. "We've received reports of identity theft from a few colleges," says Pfaff. It'sno wonder considering the numbers she offers: 49 percent of studentsget credit card applications weekly, 30 percent of students throw these out before destroying them and 30 percent never or rarely reconcile their credit card statements or checking accounts. Schools are no better, with 48 percent of them posting grades by social security number.

"Campuses need to conduct background checks on employees, have sufficient systems security features in place and educate students on how to protect themselves," says Pfaff.

All this safety data can and should be used by security offices tomake changes. "Schools can identify pockets of crime and address theissue" says David Bergeron director, Office of Postsecondary Education, Policy and Budget Development Staff. "Students should look at thedata and think about how they can avoid becoming a victim."

A Snapshot of Annual High-Risk college Drinking Consequences

Death: 1,400 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die each year from alcohol-related unintentional injuries, including motor vehicle crashes.

Injury: 500,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are unintentionally injured under the influence of alcohol.

Assault: More than 600,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are assaulted by another student who has been drinking.

Sexual Abuse: More than 70,000 students between the ages of 18 and24 are victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape.

Unsafe Sex: 400,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 have unprotected sex, and more than 100,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 report having been too intoxicated to know if they consented to having sex.

Academic Problems: About 25 percent of college students report academic consequences of their drinking, including missing class, falling behind, doing poorly on exams or papers and receiving lower grades overall.

Health Problems/Suicide Attempts: More than 150,000 students develop an alcohol-related health problem, and between 1.2 and 1.5 percentof students indicate that they tried to commit suicide within the past year due to drinking or drug use.

Drunk Driving: 2.1 million students between 18 and 24 drove under the influence of alcohol.

Property Damage: More than 25 percent of administrators from schools with relatively low drinking levels and more than 50 percent from schools with high drinking levels say their campuses have a "moderate" or "major" problem with alcohol-related property damage.

Police Involvement: About five percent of four-year college students are involved with the police or campus security as a result of their drinking, and an estimated 110,000 students between 18 and 24 are arrested for an alcohol-related violation, such as public drunkennessor driving under the influence.