Colleges Light Up

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Colleges are turning a spotlight on crime. Five years after the passage of legislation to reduce campus crime, the U.S. Department of Education asked postsecondary institutions what efforts they had made to improve lighting and safety programs and the changes in campus crime rates they had experienced.

Between 1991 and 1996, 66 percent of institutions surveyed increased lighting levels in parking lots and structures, 60 percent increased lighting levels on campus grounds and walkways, and 51 percent increased lighting levels within campus buildings. In general, public and private four-year institutions and public two-year institutions were more likely to have increased lighting levels than were private two-year institutions and those offering less-than-two-year programs. Schools with more than 10,000 students and those offering campus housing were the most likely to have improved lighting.

In addition to increased lighting, roughly three-fourths of the postsecondary institutions surveyed said they had bolstered services and programs to promote campus safety. Ninety percent of the institutions with campus housing said they limit access to residence halls, and two-thirds limit access to academic buildings during nights and weekends. About half have foot or bicycle security patrols, night-time escort services, and emergency phone systems. Only 12 percent offer night-time shuttle bus or van service. Public four-year institutions were the most likely to offer the various services or programs, followed by private four-year and public two-year institutions. Less-than-two-year institutions were far less likely to offer such programs.

Although crime information was not available for the entire five-year period, the number of violent crimes and property offenses declined between 1992 and 1994. During that period, violent crimes--murder, forcible sex offenses, robbery, and aggravated assault--fell 3 percent, from 9,850 to 9,550. Of those crimes, only the incidence of robbery increased. Property crimes, which consist of burglary and motor vehicle theft, also decreased almost 4 percent , from 39,300 to 37,780.

For more information, see Campus Crime and Security at Postsecondary Education Institutions (NCES 97-402), available from the Government Printing Office, Superintendent of Documents, Mail Stop: SSOP, Washington, DC 20402-9328; telephone (202) 512-1800, or visit the National Center for Education Statistics Web site at

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