Temple professors George F. Rengert and Mark Mattson lectured students last week about the perceptions and realities of crimes on campus.
Rengert, a criminal justice professor, said there is a great concern with violent crimes on college campuses, and this concern originates mainly from the exploitation of violent crimes on college campuses by the mass media.
Rengert asserted that journalists enjoy picking on Temple students for some unknown reason and they are overemphasized in the media. “If something happens to a Temple student in Germantown, the headlines read: Temple Student…[and describes the incident], if something happens to a UPenn student, the headlines read: West Philly resident…[and describes the incident],” he said.
“When the shooting occurred last semester, I was interviewed by WB17 and throughout the interview, the reporter questioned me on whether I was afraid because of the shooting or concerned about my safety. Every time I gave an answer, he kept trying to get me to say I was afraid to go to school here,” said April Belser, a junior elementary education major.
She answered the reporter’s badgering with, “No, I’m from Philly and I know this is an isolated incident so it doesn’t put any fear in my heart.”
Rengert assured students that campuses are relatively safe and added, “If we were to compare crime on campuses with crime in the surrounding communities, crime is almost always lower on campuses.”
Rengert reported that in a study conducted concerning crimes that transpire on different campuses, the type of student that attends a particular college has a direct effect on crime and victimization.
Campuses dominated by commuter students, such as Temple, have a much lower crime rate then residential colleges.
“At almost every campus, a lot of crime takes place around residence halls,” said Rengert, “As Temple turns to a residential from commuter school, crime rate is expected to increase.”
He credited the safety of commuter schools to commuter students not staying on campus for long hours, not being on campus at night, and not bringing their belongings to campus.
Rengert also reported that well-to-do campuses are the least safe. Campuses attended by wealthy students, such as the University of Pennsylvania, have the most crime, mainly because the more money a student has or spends, the more likely he or she is to be victimized.
In a pamphlet Rengert and Mark Mattson, Cartographer and Lab Manager for the Department of Geography and Urban Studies, distributed to members of the audience that ranked campuses from safest to least safe,
APBnews.com ranked Temple the 466th least safe school out of 470 schools.
Richard Stockton College of New Jersey in Pomona, New Jersey, was the safest, Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta, was the least safe.
Rengert said that where this study and other studies fail is in assuming that students use their surrounding communities, and that criminals target students when they enter these communities.
That pamphlet also contained a different study conducted by the Chronicle of Higher Education. In this study, which also ranked campuses from safest to least safe but, ranked campuses only on crimes that occurred on the actual campus itself, Temple ranked 267th out of the same 470 schools.
“The surrounding community has no effect on Temple’s crime,” said Rengert.
Rengert maintained that the best way to resolve the problem of crimes on college campuses is to prevent them from happening beforehand. Students should be wary of crime “hot spots” such as near ATM machines, and be sure to lock their doors.
Rengert, said that about 80 percent of the crimes that occur on Temple’s campus are committed by fellow students. The guests of students commit the remaining majority. Students should also be cautious of the areas they choose to enter. Rengert reported that the area around Presser Hall and Tomlinson Theater has the highest crime rate at Temple.