By Henri Gendreau
A casual glance at the 2012 crime statistics the Office of Campus Safety released Tuesday might cause some to fear for their lives.
For instance, in 2010 there were no disciplinary referrals regarding weapons possession. The following year there were also no violations. Last year, there were 12.
But according to Director of Campus Safety Bob Hooper, changes to the Clery Act, the law requiring colleges to disclose campus crime statistics, have made some of this year’s data appear inflated.
“I just talked to [Dean of Students] Hank Toutain on this exact same thing,” Hooper said. “The weapons number is 12 ﾗ that’s all fireworks.”
Hooper said besides designating fireworks as weapons, changes to the law required the College to report both weapons possession and drug violations in terms of the number of people involved, rather than the number of incidents, as had previously been reported.
For example, where before a roomful of six people smoking marijuana would have been recorded as a single drug violation, that number would now be marked down as six.
“We were counting incidents and they told us we need to count individuals, not the incidents,” Hooper said.
As such, the 2012 data for drug violations involving disciplinary referrals (as opposed to arrests) peaked at 125, compared to 39 in 2011 and 57 in 2010.
“That’s why those numbers are elevated more than they have been,” Hooper said. “When you read the Clery stats now it gives you a little fuzzy look,” Shift Supervisor Gregory von Freymann said. “It doesn’t make it easier for the layman to read through it and say, ﾑOK, how do I disseminate this?'”
Since federal policy dictates how and what Campus Safety reports, the Office has no control over the definitions of the categories, such as “weapons.” Hooper said he disagreed with the new designation of fireworks as weapons. “I think it’s absurd,” he said. “When you say weapons, you’re thinking guns,” he said.
While Campus Safety must submit statistics as is, Hooper is planning on amending the chart on the Kenyon webpage to show the 12 weapon reports were all fireworks, and that, as with drug violations, they counted people involved and not the number of incidents. Even though the 2012 statistics appear inflated, Hooper acknowledged the number of drug-related violations in 2012 has probably increased from previous years. He pointed to the growing acceptance and piecemeal legalization of marijuana as factors in the possibly increased numbers.
“It’s because in different states it’s legalized. When people come to Ohio they just assume it’s legalized and it’s not,” he said. “It’s not that we’re being more stringent. It’s just for the most part I think people are being so nonchalant about it.
“The [community advisors] are doing a much better job in alerting us to odors of marijuana,” he added.
Because the 2012 data might be misinterpreted, von Freymann generally recommended concerned parents or students contact the safety head at their school to alleviate concerns.
“I think that’s probably the best way, because the way the Clery stats are written right now, it is a little tough,” he said.