Campus area ranked in top 20 percent for crime

Megan Boldt

Neighborhoods surrounding the University’s Twin Cities campus rank in the top 20 percent of college residential areas with a high crime risk, according to an online news service.
The report compiled by APBnews.com identified the University as a “moderately high crime area” with a rank of eight on a scale of 10. The findings took into account neighborhood socioeconomic statistics and local police reports.
The two-year-old online service issued the rankings Nov. 10 in their first report on campus crime; statistics were based on the number of crimes per 100,000 people.
Bob Port, a senior editor at APBnews.com, said the University’s position on the scale is not bad for a college in an urban setting.
“An eight is typical for a school in the city,” Port said. “I wouldn’t be worried.”
The report emphasized the rate of violent crime, including murder, rape and robbery. More than 1,400 four-year colleges and universities were included in the study.
Socioeconomic factors studied include household income, family structure, migration patterns, property values and the average level of education among residents.
Also, the online report does not contain information from university police reports because their reporting techniques vary too much.
“We don’t believe in it; we don’t trust it,” Port said.
University crime experts cautioned against reading too much into the report.
Joel Samaha, a University history and sociology professor, said there has been a long tradition in linking social factors with crime. However, he is critical of surveys making a direct link between the factors and crime rates.
“Just because there is a relationship doesn’t mean there is a causal relationship,” Samaha said.
He also said you can’t make conclusions about the underlying causes of crime from the Internet statistics.
But statistics might be useful if students are trying to evaluate the safety level of a campus, Samaha said.
Sgt. Jo Anne Benson said University Police report all criminal incidents according to federal law, adding that the department even filed reports prior to the passage of the Campus Security Act in 1990.
The federal legislation requires all universities receiving financial aid to annually publish crime statistics and policies related to security and crime-reporting.
All campus statistics must be submitted to the U.S. Department of Education.
The risk ratings for other Minneapolis four-year colleges are similar to the University’s ranking. All institutions have the same ranking with the exception of North Central Bible College and Minneapolis College of Art and Design, with risk ratings of nine.
St. Paul universities on average had the same ranking or lower. For example, Metropolitan State University was ranked eight, but the College of St. Catherine had a rating of five.

Megan Boldt covers police and courts and welcomes comments at [email protected] She can also be reached at (612) 627-4070 x3224.