What’s the most dangerous college in America?
Many would be surprised to learn that Emerson College, located in the heart of downtown Boston, garnered the dubious title in a recent ranking by the website The Daily Beast. Several other Massachusetts schools, including Harvard and MIT, made the list.
Emerson said the statistics used to compile the list are misleading. The school earned the top spot simply because of its location, said Andrew Tiedemann, an Emerson spokesman. The Theater District college is required to annually report not only on-campus crimes to the US Department of Education, but also those that occur in the neighborhood.
|Emerson College photo|
Of the 160 incidents of assaults and robberies Emerson reported to the federal government in 2007, only six actually involved its students, Tiedemann said. In addition, he said, small urban schools are at a disadvantage in the list because the methodology used to compile the crime stats judged schools on a per-capita basis.
“There’s definitely a lot of sketchy people in the area but I don’t see how we can be the most dangerous school in the nation,” said Ricky Doyle, an Emerson junior from Quincy. “There are security guards all over the place, and I’ve never seen any crime go down.”
WBZ-TV (Channel 4) morning news anchor David Wade, a 1995 Emerson alumnus, scoffed at his alma mater’s new distinction in a blog post this morning: “SO.... if someone gets whacked atop the head in the Common at 3 a.m. on a Wednesday night, Emerson's reputation also gets whacked atop the head? Does that make sense? Sounds to me like the formula that was used was something like this: pi (3.14) x n + crime down the road x things colleges can't control = hysteria.”
Mysteriously, nearby Suffolk University did not land on website's list even though it is required to report the same neighborhood crime.
However, seven other New England schools, five of them in the Bay State, earned a spot on the list.
Tufts landed at No. 4 because its medical school campus in downtown Boston skewed its overall crime rate. MIT was No. 5 for its high number of reported burglaries relative to the number of students, according to The Daily Beast’s methodology. (The school’s Crime Club keeps a running police log.)
And Harvard – which reported more on-campus crime than any other university on the list -- was No. 20, sandwiched between Brown (18) and Yale (23). Most of Harvard’s crimes were burglaries, but it was also the highest among the top 25 for the number of reported rapes, though The Daily Beast concedes that that’s likely because the university is particularly diligent at getting students to report date and acquaintance rape.
Rounding out the list: Fitchburg State at No. 11 and Springfield College at No. 17. To beef up public safety despite budget cuts, Fitchburg police have set up a substation staffed by interns from the college and local high school.
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