How to keep crime out of campus cloisters
Jerry Doyle, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer, prowls the narrow passageways between buildings in his cruiser. Lights are blazing in the MIT campus buildings late on a frosty night. The academic facilities are open 24 hours a day because students and staff want to come and go as they please.Skip to next paragraph
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''The MIT-type scientist doesn't keep normal hours,'' Officer Doyle says.
Nor do most students on American campuses. ''People move a lot more freely on campus than in a city - kids walk on campus at all hours of the night,'' says Marvin Moore of the Stanford University Police Department.
This casual coming and going is one of the expected freedoms of college life. But recently, more and more of the outside world has been climbing the walls of academia's ivory towers. Rape, theft, and even murder have increased on once-quiet American campuses over the past few years. Campus security forces have had to be upgraded into sophisticated law-enforcement teams. Students have had to be convinced that they need to take the same precautions on campus that they would elsewhere.
The lush, quiet Stanford University campus in Palo Alto, Calif., almost feels sheltered, set apart from the rest of the world, when one walks onto it. It's easy to see why the campus here was stunned by the murder last fall of a student who was cleaning a professor's home.
But despite this rise in serious and ''nuisance'' crimes (library book theft, for example), campus police officers across the country still insist that there is no full-blown crime wave on American campuses.
''The campus is far safer, and the numbers of crimes committed are far lower in every area - except larceny,'' says James McGovern, executive director of the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators Association (IACLEA).
Quoting the Federal Bureau of Investigation's 1979 Uniform Crime Reports, Mr. McGovern compared the national murder rate of 10.2 per 100,000 people with the campus murder rate of 0.02 per 100,000 people; rape on campus of 8.9 per 100,000 population with the overall national figure of 36 per 100,000; and the national robbery rate of 243 per 100,000 people with the campus robbery rate of 19.3 per 100,000 people. But larceny, or theft, figures show the national rate of 3,156 per 100,000 people somewhat lower than the campus rate of 3,840 per 100,000.
College administrators have been educated about their campuses' vulnerability to crime, says IACLEA president Jerry Hudson. Convincing students is another matter.
''One of the most difficult points to get across to students is that we're not isolated,'' says Babson College police chief Robert Drapeau. Babson, a business school in the wealthy Boston suburb of Wellesley, was shaken by three rapes on campus in September. ''We're on the edge of a big metropolitan area, and we're not immune (to urban problems).''
''Because of the open educational atmosphere, colleges open themselves up to the public at all hours,'' says Chief Drapeau. ''The question of campus access is becoming more important. Colleges are sensitive to public relations and image , but they'll have to realize that 100 percent free access to the campus 24 hours a day is maybe not the best thing.''
''Many students come from homes or neighborhoods where it's not so crucial to lock the door,'' says Paul Moore, vice-president of the University of Santa Clara, a private liberal arts college in the San Francisco Bay area. ''They bring those same expectations to a different environment.''
''Few colleges anymore are in a historic, pastoral setting,'' Mr. Moore says. ''Many are in urban settings and they become more complex as they get connections with the business world. That and the urban setting changes things - they have to realize they're in the world.
''But just locking the gates doesn't deal effectively with the problem, because community relationships are more important than gates. If you lock yourself away, that might limit the flow of ideas.''
Derek Passarelli, a sophomore at Stanford, directs the student-run escort service called SURE (Stanford United for Rape Elimination). He says that while there is a danger that the campus could turn inward and shut off the flow of people and ideas, programs such as SURE help prevent that possibility by offering a practical daily solution to part of the crime problem.