Report shows decrease in crime on campus

Josh Goodman

Whitman was a safer place in 2010 than 2009, according to the college’s Annual Security Report released Thursday, Sept. 29. The report, federally mandated by the Clery Act of 1990, noted that incidents of robbery, burglary and forcible sex offenses at Whitman decreased from the previous year.

According to the report, there were two burglaries in 2010, both of which were in January, down from seven in 2009. There were 17 drug violations in 2010, down from 30 in 2009.

Associate Director of Security Craig McKinnon said that the decrease in burglaries was partially because crime at Whitman is often cyclical, with one person or a group of people committing similar crimes repeatedly until caught.

“The rash of burglaries we had [in 2009]: I think that was one person, and that person, I believe, was caught by the police, and we saw the incidents stop,” he said.

However, the Annual Security Report does not list theft of individual items such as laptops and bicycles. This information can be found in the security office’s online daily crime log. There were 17 such reported thefts last year. However, McKinnon noted that 80 percent of thefts on college campuses nationwide: most often thefts of small items such as flash drives or cash: are not reported to security.

Reported forcible sexual offenses, which range from forcible fondling to rape, also fell; there were six such reported offenses in 2010, down from eight in 2009 and 18 in 2008. Barbara Maxwell, associate dean of students and sexual misconduct prevention coordinator, said she would like to think that the decline is due to the Green Dot sexual misconduct prevention program, launched in fall 2009.

“The impact that Green Dot has is that it really creates a norm on campus that it’s every person’s responsibility to intervene if they see something that might be unsafe, might be high risk, might cause a problem for the students in the situation,” she said. “The community has such a heightened awareness about what is appropriate and what is inappropriate and [I like to believe] they do such a great job of intervening when they see something that may be high-risk.”

Maxwell said that it was ultimately impossible to know whether the decline is due to Green Dot or, instead, a lower rate of reporting sexual misconduct, but noted that the college would gain more insight into the issue of unreported sexual assault when it conducts its next safety survey in the spring of 2013.

More generally, McKinnon said that an increased security presence on campus: the college hired an additional security officer last year to overlap with other officers during high-risk times: played a role in the decreased crime.

“Our visible presence can deter a large number of crimes from occurring,” he said. “You walk by where someone is planning to steal something, you see them, they see you and that crime has been stopped and you don’t even know.”