NIU required to inform students about crime

By R. Scott Lohman

NIU has made future plans to publicly publish crime statistics thanks to a federal right-to-know law.

The Campus Crime Reporting Act was enacted Sept. 1 to inform current and prospective students about crime on campus and to assist or prevent crime, said University Legal Counsel George Shur.

In the past, NIU has given out crime statistics to prospective students and parents who requested a report, said University Police Lt. Kathy Guimond.

NIU is now required by law to list crimes such as murders, rapes, robberies, aggravated assaults, burglaries and automobile thefts which have taken place on campus during the past three years, she said.

Shur said the Crime Awareness Act “doesn’t necessarily tell the whole picture.” For example, NIU is a “unique institution” in a rural area, but it has “7,600 dorm beds,” he said.

This means sexual assaults would most likely occur in residents’ rooms rather than in the street, a car or an apartment.

At NIU, the University Police would respond and NIU would have to report the crime, Shur said. At the University of Illinois at Chicago, however, Chicago Police would report it and the crime would not show up as a campus crime.

Shur said this would make crime at NIU and DeKalb seem much worse than in other places. The crime statistics could then be wildly different between urban and rural schools and this would “really be a lot different than reality,” he said.

He also said he feels DeKalb and NIU are safer for students and residents than some colleges in metropolitan areas.

Shur said NIU has added crime prevention measures this year, including better residence hall security and better lighting, as well as additional call boxes to make the campus safer.

The crime statistics will be published in The Northern Star later this month, Shur said.

This act was “prompted by one family’s grief of one terrible (rape) incident,” she said.