By Leslie Vargas and Garinder Clair
Oftentimes when people see a university has a high crime rate, it can turn off potential students and their parents away from visiting or making the campus their home. After all, a college campus and its surrounding neighborhoods will be the student’s home for the next four years.
While it can be nice to see a college campus with no reported crimes or incidents, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s safe, it could be a sign of lax reporting. Higher incidents of crime could mean the school is stricter about law enforcement and reporting.
In 2019 University of Illinois at Chicago reported 424 safety related incidents involving students on or near campus or other UIC properties. Based on a student body of 31,682 (during the year 2019) that works out to be 13.38 reports per thousand students.
When asking current UIC sophomore Ari Andrade, who was a freshman at the time the data was reported, how she felt about these reports she was surprised.
Andrade says “Wow. I had no idea so many incidents happened on campus. That’s really eye-opening. At that time I only knew of a few [reports] that’s crazy that there were so many.”
There are four broad categories that crime falls under; disciplinary actions, arrests for possession, violence against women, and arrests for major crimes. According to data, 43.9% of overall crime incidents reported at UIC in 2019 were disciplinary actions. Major crimes such as aggravated assault, arson, rape, etc. comes in second with 33.7%. Crimes against women comes in next with 19.8% and arrests for possession comes in at 2.6%.
In terms of location, 80.7% of incidents occurred on campus while 18.4% of all incidents occured in the surrounding Chicago neighborhood. Only 0.9% of all incidents occurred off campus but while on school affiliated property.
UIC sophomore Ari Andrade was asked how safe she felt on campus. She replied that she felt somewhat safe on campus but had recently had her doubts after UIC sophomore Ruth George was found dead in the UIC parking lot after being assaulted and killed.
Andrade explains “When I first got here I thought campus was one of the safest places, but after what happened to the girl Ruth, I started to feel nervous walking around campus by myself.”
Andrade recalled that whenever she had to walk through different parts of campus, she carried pepper spray in her hand.
When asked if she knew of any resources or policies that can help students who are victims of on campus crimes, the student replied with no.
Andrade says “I honestly can’t tell you of any resources. I do know that the UIC police department offers self defense classes, but other than that I’m not really sure what’s in place to help students.”
However, UIC Chief of Police Kevin L. Booker, says there are a lot of resources available to students who are victims of crime.
Booker explains “One of the most beneficial things UIC has is its own full-service police department. UIC has many services available to students that are victims of crimes. The Title IX office, Campus Advocacy Network, Dean of Students, the cultural centers, and many others can provide resources and guidance. We, UICPD, also provide services and will support any UIC community member that needs and wants assistance after being a victim of a crime. Lastly, UICPD conducts presentations, and provides educational materials and other crime prevention information to the UIC community.”
Andrade recalls the numerous amounts of emails they receive from the campus police. She is referring to the automatic emails all UIC students and staff receive from the Public Safety Advisory that alerts them of any incidents and crimes occurring on and around the UIC campus. Andrade mentions how this is a positive thing on UIC’s part as it allows transparency and keeps students and staff in the loop.
The UIC Police also maintains a Daily Crime Log, as required by the Clery Act. This log records all criminal incidents and alleged criminal incidents reported having occurred within the patrol boundaries of the UIC Police Department. Within this log, essential information regarding incidents is listed for each event.
This includes when the incident occurred, was reported, the nature of the crime, the status of each complaint, and the relevant UIC Police report number. However, you have to call the crime statistics officer to have access to it and since it’s not online, you have to pick it up at the police station.
Around 80% of crime happens while on campus, and 12.5% are crimes against women, current UIC student Emma Gill was a victim of both.
Emma Gill was on campus in broad daylight when she was attacked while leaving class and walking to her car.
Gill said, “You view coming to school as a safe place. Your parents send you to school with no worries like this in their head but being a girl in today’s society is not easy. Even when you’re not trying, you still get hit on. I myself used to come to school without worries that I am going to get assaulted. I would always hear about it on the news but never thought anything like this could happen to me.”
She mentioned that she had also contacted the police and had a support system to help her after she was assaulted.
Emma explained “I had a great support system around me. I made sure my friends and family were aware of this situation and made sure they kept their caution. The police weren’t much help but I made sure it was reported. I made sure that all my girl-friends were not walking alone on campus and made sure that they had some sort of self — defence tool or weapon with them at all times.”
Gill mentioned that if she could go back, she would have done things differently.
Emma says one last remark “I would have not been alone. I always walked alone and it was a habit of mine to be alone but since that day, I haven’t gone anywhere alone. I wish I was with someone and I am positive I wouldn’t have been attacked. I would like to tell girls especially that please never be alone. If possible be with a group and if not that at least have one person with you. This world is not a safe place for you to be alone.”