UCLA Takes Issue with Being Declared "Most Dangerous Campus"

Saturday, Nov 24, 2012  |  Updated 3:55 PM PDT
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UCLA officials have fired back at an internet magazine that posted an article claiming that the Westwood campus is number one on the list of "The 25 Most-Dangerous Colleges In America."

The "Business Insider" article was "way off," "erroneous" and "mistaken," UCLA officials said in an official statement.

The magazine averaged FBI crime data for three years, and divided it by student population.

Using that formula, "Business Insider" concluded that "while crime declined in 2011, things are still terrible: 12 forcible rapes 11 robberies, 17 aggravated assaults, 195 burglaries, 625 larcenies, 18 motor vehicle thefts, and three incidents of arson."

"Don't believe it," fired back the school on its official website.

UCLA Director of media relations Phil Hampton said the internet article neglected to compute that UCLA Police take crime reports all over West Los Angeles, not just on campus, and also cover crimes at UCLA health clinics all across Southern California.

"To conclude that UCLA somehow is dangerous is a reckless mischaracterization of data," Hampton wrote in statement that "Business Insider" printed.

The school noted that the rankings will appear far and wide on the web.

UC Riverside, which was ranked number 24, went even further.

"An intentionally-inflammatory headline is now being widely-disseminated," UCR spokeswoman Kris Lovekin complained in a statement.

The Riverside spokeswoman said the statistics used in the article reflect that fact that some campus police departments do a better job of getting all crime reported by victims.

"Comparing all reported crime will necessarily include those reports that are false or mistaken," she said.

Particularly rankling to UCLA students who complained to the web site was that the ranking include only public schools, and not private schools like USC. Two students were murdered in near-campus housing at USC last year, but that school did not make the list.

The executive editor of "Campus Safety Magazine" also complained.

"If anything, UCLA is probably safer than a lot of campuses that lull students with low crime numbers that don't represent reality," Robin Hattersley Gray said in a statement. "Unfortunately, the 'Business Insider' article may encourage campuses like UCLA to stop doing a good job of collecting crime data.

"The list brings to mind the 1954 book 'How To Lie With Statistics,'" Hattersely Gray wrote. "Shame on them."

"Business Insider" noted the official complaints at the end of its article, but did not address the specific claims.

"As you can see, this is a controversial list, but we think it offers a useful perspective on crime on and near campuses," it reported.

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