The Other College Rankings: Most Dangerous U.S. Campuses

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Forget acceptance and matriculation rates, or student to professor ratio. Give us the arsons, assault and robberies record.

September is the season for high school seniors to start thinking seriously about where they will be spending their undergraduate years. The annual U.S. News and World report rankings have already been released, but no less juicy is the second annual 50 Most Dangerous Colleges list, compiled by The Daily Beast.

The online news website says that in putting together the list, its staffers “pored over the three most recent calendar years of campus security and crime data (2006-2008) compiled by the U.S. Department of Education, as well as the FBI and the Secret Service, in conjunction with the Clery Act, the federal mandate requiring all schools that receive federal funding to disclose crime information annually.”

Among the highlights is the poor showing by schools in the storied northeast, with eight of the top ten coming from north of the Mason-Dixon line. The cities of Baltimore and Boston were of particular ill-repute in the top ten, claiming five spots. But perhaps the real takeaway is just how safe US college campuses are when it comes to grave crimes. The number one most dangerous school on the list, Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, did report a troublingly high figure of 36 forcible rapes. But the school only had one murder over the two-year stretch.

For its part, Tufts is responding, and contesting the rankings. The Daily Beast has listed Boston as the home of Tufts, which is where Tufts Medical School buildings are located, but that site is nevertheless removed from the school’s main campus in the Boston suburb of Medford.

Indeed, some of the 458 studied schools were practical Shangri-Las, havens of crime-free undergraduate utopia. Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee had an essentially empty blotter. Long Island University – Brooklyn reported only six burglaries, and no other crimes, proving that college in New York City might after all be a safe option for prospective pre-frosh.

And for those looking to bring down a peg the perennial top dog of the U.S. News rankings, Harvard University had the nation’s third most dangerous campus, with 909 burglaries.