MIT crime rate tops state
By Jeremy Hylton
MIT has the highest crime rate of any large four-year school in Massachusetts, according to a report published in USA Today yesterday. A total of 823 crimes were committed on campus during 1989, the report indicates.
Campus Police Chief Anne P. Glavin downplayed the importance of the report. "Many of the incidents reported have nothing to do with students," she said.
MIT had a crime index of 82 crimes per 1000 students, fifth highest in the nation. The report was based on the FBI Crime Index. The index measures murder, rape, aggravated assault, robbery, burglary, larceny-theft, and motor-vehicle theft. The report only listed colleges with more than 3000 full- and part-time students.
"We have a relatively low rate of serious crime for an urban campus," Glavin said. More than 700 of the crimes committed were burglaries or larcenies and
only 20 violent crimes were committed.
"MIT's crime picture has not had enormous upswings or downswings," Glavin said. She said the number of violent crimes has been between 17 and 28 for the last six to eight years.
The violent crime index is "not a high number for a densely populated urban area like MIT," Glavin said. Schools like MIT with fewer than 10,000 students and in cities with more than 500,000 people are most prone to violence, according to the report.
Other area schools have significantly lower crime rates. Boston University had only 763 crimes committed, for a crime index of 26 crimes per 1000. More crimes were committed at Harvard than at MIT, but its index relative to student size is 68 per 1000.
The four schools with higher crime rates were Yale University (110 crimes per 1000), Georgia Institute of Technology (106), Stanford University (91), and Dartmouth College (81). With the exception of Dartmouth, these schools are nearly the same size as MIT.
Glavin felt the report misrepresented MIT because there was
no distinction between crimes against students and other campus-related crimes. The Campus Police divide theft into three categories: residence hall theft, MIT property theft, and personal (faculty and staff, only) theft. "It's three very distinctive and different categories of theft," Glavin explained.
Only the residence hall thefts relate directly to students, according to Glavin. The other categories deal with theft of Institute or faculty and staff property. "In recent years that problem [residence hall theft] has been getting better," she said.
Glavin described the broad nature of the categories as the primary problem with the report. "Many colleges know the problem . . . and under-report to compensate," Glavin said. The statistics may also vary from school to school because "the school has aggressive police or students report more crimes," the report said.
"If you don't pay attention to [qualifiers] before you read the statistics you can get a mistaken impression," Glavin said. She noted other issues not explained in the survey. MIT is an open campus, where crimes are often committed by non-students, she said.
Also, many car thefts are committed over the summer. Some stolen cars have been found near "chop shops." She said these crimes are clearly committed by professionals and should not be considered campus crime.
The report did not consider off-campus crimes involving students. The Campus Police do not have jurisdiction at the fraternities in Boston. As a result, Glavin does not know how many off-campus crimes were not included in the report's results.
"I wouldn't begin to guess. I wouldn't say it's a great deal," she said.
The USA Today report published statistics on 494 schools. The average campus crime rate for the report was 26 crimes per 1000 students. USA Today will continue its series on campus crime every day this week.