Recent study regarding NIU’s safety is not credible


By Dave Thomas

“Did you hear that NIU is one of the 10 most dangerous schools in the country?”

I’ve had a few people ask me this over the past couple of weeks. In light of the April 5 shooting of NIU linebacker Devon Butler, I can see how this designation stands out. We talk about it as if it were the “Eureka” moment.

But I’m skeptical. And let me tell you why.

First off, it’s important to understand where this information is coming from. It’s not coming from U.S. News and World Report, Newsweek or even the Chronicle of Higher Education. It’s coming from

What is It is “designed specifically for prospective college students and their parents” and their mission is to “provide [their] visitors with unbiased, accurate, and up-to-date information for each school.”

But that’s it. That’s all the credibility it has. It is not sponsored by any institution worth its weight in salt. And it is not an equivalent to the publications I mentioned earlier. So why should I take their word that their analysis of the data is correct?

This leads me to my next beef with this designation: their analysis. NIU, in their opinion, “has major problems with murders.” The murders in question are the Feb. 14 shootings, in which former NIU student Steven Kazmierczak walked into Cole Hall and killed five NIU students before turning the gun on himself.

It’s this data point that really bothers me. Simply saying five murders occurred at NIU in 2008 is not enough context for these “prospective college students and their parents.”

It was the result of one man’s rampage that no one could have really stopped or predicted.

Wednesday was the 12th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting. Can we call Columbine a dangerous place because 12 years ago, two students killed 13 people and injured 21 others?

To be fair, is consistent. The most dangerous college in America is Virginia Tech, the site of a shooting in 2007 that claimed 32 innocent lives. According to the website, “[Virginia Tech] is a very dangerous place to stay…From our perception of the data, this campus has major problems with murders…”

NIU and Virginia Tech do not have a problem with murders. They were simply the sites of extraordinary tragedies.

To use these tragedies as the justification for being called the most dangerous college campuses in the country is shameful on the part of

But then again, what can be said about a website that makes arbitrary decisions?