Seton Hall published its 2017 Annual Security and Fire Safety Report for the South Orange campus, which showed decreases in many on-campus crimes and offenses while other areas revealed what SHU can improve upon.
Student Services emailed the report to the SHU community on Sept. 17, beating the Oct. 1 deadline. The report is published in compliance with the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act.
Associate Vice President, Dean of Students and Title IX Deputy Coordinator, Karen Van Norman, spoke about the report.
“I am confident that the statistics accurately reflect all of the crimes (as defined by the Clery Act for the Annual Security Report) that were reported to Public Safety and Security,” Van Norman wrote in an email. “We also know from national studies that many crimes, especially those related to sexual violence, are under reported across the country in all communities.”
The annual security report details information about campus security and personal safety, including topics like crime prevention and fire safety, according to the university-wide email.
Van Norman also elaborated on the Oct. 1 deadline, saying that’s “the deadline or latest date by which the report must be published.” She added, “There’s no reason to not release it sooner; the report was ready so we shared it with the community.”
The report also contains information about “crime statistics for the three previous calendar years concerning reported crimes that occurred on campus; in certain off-campus buildings or property owned or controlled by Seton Hall; and on public property within, or immediately adjacent to and accessible from the campus,” the email stated.
Additionally, the report reads, “These statistics include all reports of crimes made to Campus Security Authorities, to Public Safety & Security, and to local law enforcement agencies. These are reports of crimes, and do not necessarily represent actual, investigated or adjudicated crimes.”
Rape on on-campus property saw a slight increase. In 2015, there were six reported on-campus rapes, while in 2016 there were three. This number grew to four in 2017.
Stalking saw a decrease from 2016 to 2017. In 2015, there were no reported cases of stalking on on-campus property. In 2016, there were five and in 2017 this dropped to two.
Disciplinary referrals for liquor law violations were higher in 2017 than compared to the two previous calendar years. In 2015, on on-campus property there were 109 disciplinary referrals for liquor law violations, while in 2016 that number decreased to 81. It shot up to 135 in 2017.
Van Norman commented on the difference in the number of referrals between 2016 and 2017 for liquor law violations.
“I would be hesitant to draw any conclusion based upon one year of data,” she said. “It’s also important to note that the Annual Security Report reflects data based upon very specific definitions as dictated by the federal government in terms of location, type of violation, location, etc. That context is important when reviewing the statistics.”
Students, however, weren’t startled by this number.
Zuleima Montesinos, a junior psychology major, said she had glimpsed at the report and wasn’t surprised by this statistic because this is college and there are parties.
Young adults make mistakes and college students aren’t supervised so if they want to drink then they will, she said.
Yashi Patel, a sophomore nursing major, also said this statistic didn’t surprise her.
Hate crimes were another statistic listed in the report. While 2015 saw no reported hate crimes, there were four reported in 2016. All four occurred on-campus. Two of the incidents were based on race bias, one was based on religious bias and one was based on national origin bias.
In 2017, there were three reported hate crimes and two occurred on-campus. All three incidents were based on race bias.
Montesinos said that while she hasn’t experienced a hate crime, that as a minority, she finds it difficult to hear about these types of crimes.
“As a minority, it’s shocking to find out or read about hate crimes, especially because this is a Catholic school,” she said. “Most people might be religious so for them to show hatred it kind of goes against what the university is teaching.”
On-campus burglaries decreased too. In 2015 and 2016, there were 11 reported burglaries on on-campus property and this number dropped to seven in 2017.
Montesinos said she feels like she’s never informed of these crimes. She said she would rather be informed ahead of time instead of finding out about certain crimes through the report. She said, for example, she wanted to know when these burglaries happened, why they happened and who was targeted.
“Being left in the dark is not a good thing,” she added.
Patel further commented on the report, saying she saw the email but didn’t read it. She added that she doesn’t think everyone pays attention to these emails that the university sends out.
She suggested that the school try to tell students about things like these statistics in a different way. She said they could put the statistics on posters around campus so everyone sees them.
Patel gave some of her own safety tips.
She said if students are going to walk off campus they should stay in a group because there’s safety in numbers. She advised not walking at night while wearing headphones because that makes a person an easy target.
Nicole Snyder, a junior business major, read the email the school sent out about the report.
Snyder talked about how she keeps herself safe. “I try to stay aware of my surroundings and not really talk on my phone as I’m walking,” she said.
Since emails aren’t working to bring this report to students’ attention, Snyder said that maybe the report could be discussed in classes or professors could encourage students to take a look at it.
Associate Vice President for Public Safety, Pat Linfante, discussed resources that students can utilize to stay safe.
Besides ShuFly and SafeRide, students can use Uber, Lyft or a “reputable taxi service when traveling to locations which are not on the ShuFly route or located within the SafeRide zone,” he wrote in an email.
He also had some safety tips for students.
“Whenever possible utilize university sponsored transportation such as; ShuFly and SafeRide. Travel in groups with others and be mindful of your surroundings,” Linfante said. “When walking off campus, especially after dark or in strange surroundings walk with confidence, act like you belong in the neighborhood.”
He added, “Do not engage in behavior that could prevent you from being alerted to possibly dangerous situations. Therefore you shouldn’t wear headphones, earbuds or utilize the cell phone.”
Linfante said students should walk in busy and well lit areas and not display their valuables. Students can visit Public Safety’s website for additional information, he said.
He added that “students should notify Public Safety or the South Orange Police Department immediately if they are the victim of a crime, feel threatened or if they see something or someone suspicious.”
Samantha Todd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. This story originally appeared on her blog “Campus Rundown.” You can reach her on Twitter @CampusRundown.