Alcohol was the number-one crime problem on the Charles River Campus in 2014, at least when considering the number of offenses. The University’s annual Security and Fire Safety Report counts 1,004 alcohol violations referred for disciplinary action. That’s up 43 percent from 2013’s 701 and 76 percent from 2012’s 572. Officials say the increase reflects more attention and effort devoted to the problem by authorities and bystanders.
“Our increased emphasis on the overall quality and quantity of staff training and discussion opportunities has increased residence hall liquor law referrals,” says Kenneth Elmore (SED’87), dean of students.
“There’s been a lot of bystander and RA training, a lot more emphasis on alcohol-related issues at college in general,” says Scott Paré, deputy director of public safety and BU Police Department deputy chief. “You have more education and awareness, and thus more reporting.”
There were 18 alcohol offense arrests in 2014, according to the report, up from 7 in 2013, but the same number as in 2012. There were 90 drug offenses referred for University disciplinary action in 2014, compared to 81 in 2013 and 69 in 2012.
“From the implementation of campus-wide Campus Security Authority training to ongoing resident assistant and staff training, with a focus on disciplinary referrals,” Elmore says, “we have increased the effectiveness of our reporting community.”
He says that improved reporting, coupled with expanded use of the disciplinary management software Symplicity Advocate, has enabled the University to more effectively capture and document conduct violations.
Forcible sex crimes on the Charles River Campus rose to 12 in 2014, from 8 in 2013 and 9 in 2012. Of the 2014 sex crimes, 9 were in campus residential areas, compared to 5 in each of the two previous years. Paré says the numbers don’t necessarily reflect an upward trend.
“I think there’s more education in this community about reporting—and a lot of avenues to do that,” he says, referring to the BUPD, the Sexual Assault Response & Prevention Center, the Dean of Students office, and others. Paré believes that many sex crimes still go unreported, and he hopes to see reports catch up to actual incidences. “The most important thing is to get these survivors the assistance they need,” he says.
There were also 15 incidents of stalking reported on campus in 2014, up from 12 in 2013.
Changes in reporting language affected the numbers in a few categories, including crimes of domestic violence, which dropped from 10 to 0 as dating violence went from 0 to 8.
The BUPD compiles the annual Security and Fire Safety Report from its own records, as well as those from other University offices and from police departments in Boston, Brookline, and Cambridge. Federal legislation known as the Jeanne Clery Act requires colleges and universities that participate in federal financial aid programs to publish crime statistics in numerous categories at least once a year.
There were no murders, manslaughters, or arsons on the Charles River Campus in 2014. The five aggravated assaults and one robbery were the same numbers as in 2013. There were 18 burglaries, a drop from 22 in 2013 and 28 in 2012. There were three weapons violations that resulted in disciplinary referrals in 2014, but only one that resulted in arrest. The campus also saw a lone car theft and a single hate crime—an instance of anti-Semitic graffiti, according to Paré.
Figures from the Medical Campus were separated out in the report. That campus saw one forcible sex offense, four stalking cases, and two domestic violence cases in 2014. Also reported were one burglary, two drug offenses resulting in arrest, and one weapons law violation resulting in arrest. There were no alcohol offenses.
The most common campus crime aside from alcohol violations—larceny—is not one of the categories required by the report. Paré says there have been 318 larcenies on campus so far in 2015, with 330 in all of 2014 and 374 in 2013. Typically, he says, those are thefts of cell phones, laptops, or bags in the George Sherman Union, Mugar Memorial Library, and common areas in other campus buildings—a student leaves a possession unattended for just a few minutes and returns to find it gone. The answer is simple, Paré says: “Keep an eye on your stuff.”
There were 14 fires across the campuses, all apparently minor, most either cooking problems or trash barrel fires. No one was seriously injured in any of the fires.
In addition to crime and fire statistics, the report has tips on fire safety and how to avoid becoming a victim of crime, as well as sections on University policies on use of alcohol and illegal drugs and on sexual misconduct. It also includes information about how to report emergencies and a primer on services such as mental health care available on campus.
Students needing help for stalking, domestic violence, or dating violence can contact the Sexual Assault Response & Prevention Center, 930 Commonwealth Ave., at 617-353-SARP (7277), or by email, at firstname.lastname@example.org. All services are free and information is kept confidential. In urgent situations, students can also seek help at Student Health Services Behavioral Medicine, at 617-353-3569.
Students and staff can call the Boston University Police, at 617-353-2121, or Medical Center Public Safety, at 617-414-4444.