Fresno State removed from ‘dangerous college’ list

UPDATE –  (November 29, 2012) — Fresno State has been removed from the Business Insider “America’s Most Dangerous Colleges” top 25 list after the website issued a revised list based on a different database.

“This revision provides a more accurate assessment of the safety of our campus and reinforces our students’ perceptions that they feel safe,” Dr. Paul M. Oliaro, vice president for Student Affairs, said today.

The revision used Clery Act reports that universities are required to file with the federal government each year, instead of FBI stats, which Business Insider critics throughout the nation claimed were not an accurate assessment of crime activity on campuses.

In announcing its Nov. 27 revise based on U.S. Department of Education data, Business Insider said it still stands by its original list, which had ranked Fresno State as No. 19.  UCLA dropped from No. 1 to No. 22 in the revision and Howard University was ranked No. 1.

Anne P. Glavin, president of the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators, said the original Business Insider article presented “a misleading and highly distorted picture of crime on campus, based on a flawed methodology.”

“Business Insider used a formula to rank the largest universities in the country, based on an average of FBI data from 2008 to 2011. Only colleges with an enrollment of 10,000 students or greater were included in the rankings, based on a combination of the violent crime and property crime ranks, which were weighted on a four (violent crimes) to one (property crimes) basis,” said Glavin.

Tuesday afternoon prior to the revise, Fresno State officials and students echoed the criticism of the website’s methodology and use of terms like “dangerous” while emphasizing that students and employees in general feel safe on the Fresno State campus.

Shirley Melikian Armbruster, associate vice president of University Communications, said, “The conclusion by Business Insider that Fresno State is dangerous is simply inflammatory and unfounded.”

“There are a lot of partnerships on campus that are flourishing and seeking to make it a safer place for us to come to school, to learn, to build our futures,” said Arthur Montejano, president of the Associated Students Inc.

Montejano said ASI is working with the community, law enforcement and student affairs to make Fresno State a safer place with such initiatives as the community revitalization project, hosting crime prevention week in February with local law enforcement agencies, a self defense class and bike lock program.

He noted that among the safety measures at Fresno State is an emergency call button on the new Fresno State application for smart phones that is connected directly to campus police.

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(November 27, 2012) Campus safety is of utmost concern at Fresno State. Our proactive law enforcement program focuses on the safety of students, faculty, staff and visitors and does a commendable job.

This report does not present an accurate picture of our campus because it includes Fresno State Police Department interactions with surrounding areas. Our police officers take reports of crimes committed not only on university-owned and operated properties, but also crimes committed in neighboring off-campus areas where Fresno State police have concurrent jurisdiction with other law enforcement agencies.

We recommend you consider a response to the article by Robin Hattersley Gray, executive editor of  Campus Safety Magazine, who is “extremely concerned” about how colleges are portrayed. Gray said, in part:

“Usually, when people who are not familiar with law enforcement review crime statistics, they assume that the institutions with the greater number of incidents reported are less safe than the institutions that have a lower number of crimes reported. They don’t understand that when crime stats are higher, it often means the campus in question is realistically dealing with its crime problem and is dedicated to transparency. In essence, more reports of crime very often mean members of the campus community are better informed about threats to their safety. When they know about a crime wave or incident, they are more likely to take the steps necessary to protect themselves. If they are confident that their reports of incidents will be taken seriously, they will more likely come forward and make a report.”

The conclusion by Business Insider that Fresno State is dangerous is simply inflammatory and unfounded.