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Analyzing That Public Safety Report

Yesterday, the Columbia Community received an email from James McShane announcing the release of Public Safety’s Annual Report. Bwog’s Crime Bureau Chief Jon Hill crunched some numbers and compared Columbia with Duke and U. Chicago (our peers in U.S. News rankings) on their levels of per-student (full-time enrollee) crime.

Says Hill: “The University of Chicago comes off looking like Munchkinland. Their crime reports are full of zeroes, with the total number of incidents reported bottoming out at about 20 percent of Columbia and Duke. Considering U. Chicago’s main campus is on the city’s infamous South Side, though, I have a feeling that these numbers do not accurately reflect the level of campus crime.

Duke and Columbia are about on par when it comes to crime. Duke has far more alcohol/drug/weapons-related incidents, but this is not unusual given Duke’s suburban campus (security officers more likely to notice students drinking, fewer off-campus bars, etc.). Schools may also vary in their level of enforcement for these types of incidents. As for non-vice crimes, Columbia has more incidents reported but a lower count per student.

Also, the numbers from James McShane do suggest a “War on Fun” — drug and alcohol incidents are up 325 percent over last year.”


School Incidents

(per 1,000 students)

City Incidents

(per 1,000 residents)
1. Duke 32 incidents 66 incidents

2. Columbia 18 incidents 25 incidents

(New York City)
3. University of Chicago 5 incidents 61 incidents




For those interested in a more finely detailed comparison, Bwog has also prepared the following table. All rankings are based on per-student counts. 

Property and Violent Crime Vice Crimes
Aggravated Assault Arrests for Alcohol
1. Columbia

2. Duke

3. U. of Chicago
1. Duke

2. Columbia

3. U. of Chicago
Burglary Discipline for Alcohol
1. Columbia

2. Duke

3. U. of Chicago
1. Duke

2. Columbia

3. U. of Chicago
Motor Vehicle Theft Arrests for Drugs
1. Duke

2. Columbia

3. U. of Chicago
1. Duke

2. U. of Chicago

3. Columbia
Sex Offenses Discipline for Drugs
1. Duke

2. Columbia

3. U. of Chicago
1. Columbia

2. Duke

3. U. of Chicago
Arrests for Weapons
Rankings are given in order of most incidents reported to least. Shading indicates which school was highest ranked for that category. Crime categories with no incidents reported at any of the three schools have been omitted. 1. Duke

2. Columbia

3. U. of Chicago

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  • Wait... says:

    @Wait... Motor Vehicle Theft
    1. Duke
    2. Columbia
    3. UChicago

    Columbia students have cars on campus?

    1. driver says:

      @driver Maybe some (rich students) do.

      It may also be the cars of parents visiting students. They would report it to both NYPD and campus security, and the latter records as an on-campus crime.

  • so.. says:

    @so.. if Property and violent crime at this school are so high, why on earth is Public Safety focusing on Vice crime? Idiots.

  • chicagos says:

    @chicagos infamous south side? Uchicago is in Hyde park…a super nice area in the south side.

  • 114 says:

    @114 In the immortal words of Pi Kappa Alpha, “I don’t need your consent.”

  • ... says:

    @... i have witnessed two separate street fights in the past two days around here.

    compared with zero for the ~400 days before…


  • About those numbers says:

    @About those numbers The University of Chicago statistics sound more than a little contrived. They had a whole spree of muggings with guns last year, including a bunch in broad daylight right around campus. So the whole thing’s more complicated.
    At any rate, see:

  • hmm says:

    @hmm if you want to see something really funny check out the fact that Public Safety reports no Hate Crimes for Columbia for 2007

  • This report says:

    @This report is probably inaccurate. No hate crimes for 2007? Only 8 forcible sex offenses in 2007? Come on! More like at least 8 per semester, especially counting the instances in frats and what not.

  • ex-chicago says:

    @ex-chicago chicago’s statistics are unreliable because it only counts crime committed on campus; more than 50% of students live off campus. And I had plenty of friends that were mugged at gunpoint… HP is okay – sleeping in the daytime – but at nighttime it attracts a lot of criminals since there are a lot of clueless rich college students walking about.

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