Safe Colleges

Following the Yale murder and The Daily Beast’s ranking of the most crime-ridden campuses, we crunch the numbers again—this time to determine America’s safest schools.

Jonathan Elderfield / Getty Images

Jonathan Elderfield / Getty Images

#1, New York Institute of Technology

Student Population: 11,831
Not a single stolen vehicle. Not a single burglary. Not a single robbery. Not even a measly reported arson. In short, there was no crime reported at the New York Institute of Technology’s main campuses for 2006 and 2007. That’s why this school in Old Westbury, a quaint village of 4,000 on Long Island, tops our list of the safest colleges in America. NYIT is primarily considered a commuter school, but it has seven residence halls at its multiple New York-area campuses. But even counting one residential dormitory in Manhattan and another in Brooklyn along with the Old Westbury campus, New York Tech’s report to the federal government was flawless.

#2, Farmingdale State University

Student Population: 6,447
Farmingdale State University, also known as SUNY Farmingdale, is located in Farmingdale, New York, and was founded in 1912 as an agricultural college. It is primarily a commuter school, but houses roughly 500 students. There was no crime reported at non-campus buildings owned by the university and there was no crime reported in the vicinity of the campus. On the Long Island campus there was one burglary, three vehicle thefts and one rape during 2006 and 2007.

Amanda Pitts / Grand Valley State University

#3, Grand Valley State University

Student Population: 23,464
Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan, is one of the youngest schools on this list (established in 1960) and one of largest (1,237-acre campus). It’s also one of the safest, rating very low in almost every category. The one blemish: nine rapes over our two-year statistical period, though some schools record more rapes largely because they have more victim support services that encourage women to report acquaintance rape attacks. Such schools are arguably safer, even though they tally more incidents, than schools where it’s more difficult for victims to come forward.

#4, Indiana Wesleyan University

Student Population: 15,442
Indiana Wesleyan University scored high points for its low crime, but this Christian university in Marion, Indiana, forgot one cardinal rule: Thou shalt not burgle. You have to go all the way back to No. 15 on our list to find a school with at least 12 burglaries in 2007. Executive Vice President Todd Voss blames the relatively high rate on petty theft—a $20 bill on a dresser in an unlocked dorm room might be too hard for even the most devout student to resist. But, for the most part, Voss says his school has good kids. “We’re not an elite Christian college but we do seem to attract students that are all about our mission, “ Voss says. “That seems to be a very positive experience for us in terms of attracting a student that is interested in serving others and being a change agent in the world.” One more thing: Indiana Wesleyan is a dry campus, "and we expect students to follow that off campus," says Voss.

Jason Jenkins/Icon SMI

#5, Idaho State University

Student Population: 13,208
Want a sign of safety? Pocatello, Idaho, bills itself as the Smile Capital of the US. In 1948, Pocatello Mayor George Phillips passed an ordinance making smiles the only legal mouth expression in Pocatello, following an unusually cold winter. Phillips would smile if he could see Idaho State’s place on our list.

#6, The University of Montana

Student Population: 13,628
The University of Montana helps keeps crime low with a sophisticated GPS system that spans the entire 220-acre campus. GPS, of course, stands for Grizzly Personal Safety, named after the school’s mascot, and is the school’s campus escort program. (No, not in that way.) Escorts zip around in electric golf carts, whisking students across campus to their dorms. “We are also geographically in a pretty good position,” says Jim Lemcke, director of the Office of Public Safety. “We’re not in a big city with a lot of crime.” Most of the incidents reported were nonviolent, according to the data reported by the school to the U.S. Department of Education.

#7, University of Virginia

Student Population: 24,257
Thomas Jefferson’s university did its founder proud. Reported on-campus crime at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville was very low for a school of its size. The most serious offenses were two burglaries that occurred in 2007. But on the property surrounding the school there were five counts of assault and six vehicle thefts in 2006.

#8, Georgia College & State University

Student Population: 6,249
Georgia College & State’s population is equal to roughly a third of the the total population of its nerve center, Milledgeville, Georgia. Milledgeville was the state's capital during the Civil War, but it never grew like its successor, Atlanta. Here’s the silver lining: The only crimes the campus suffered were two reported robberies in 2006 and one reported burglary in 2006 and 2007, respectively.

Matthew Sharpe / Getty Images

#9, University of Mississippi

Student Population: 15,129
Ole Miss, famously desegregated by force of gun nearly a half-century ago, now proves far more receptive to authority. "I think we’re a little more accepted as part of the campus than maybe at some other campus,” says Chief of Police Calvin Sellers. “And we work hard to do that.” The school’s Adopt-a-Cop program allows fraternities and sororities to “adopt” a campus officer to spend time with brothers and sisters and talk about campus safety issues that stem from things like alcohol and drug use. “You can’t police people if you don’t know who they are,” Sellers says.

Courtesy of SHSU Communications

#10, Sam Houston State University

Student Population: 16,496
In Huntsville, Texas, a large town dominated by Sam Houston State University, the living is easy. “The community itself is one of the most laid-back that I’ve ever been in,” says Director of Communications Bruce Erickson. There were no reported robberies, no reported rapes, and three burglaries in 2007. Erickson, who has worked at two major schools in the Los Angeles area, pointed out the different vibe in Huntsville. Erickson jokes that when he was in Los Angeles, “we had a saying that every day without a shooting on campus is a good day in the PR office—it just was not uncommon in those urban environments to have incidents especially on Friday, Saturday nights. But at Sam Houston State it’s an amazingly lively campus but safe and friendly.”

#11, Winona State University

Student Population: 8,482
This Minnesota’s school’s director of security, Don Walski, knows on which side his bread is buttered. “The administration, I don’t think they’ve ever said no to me when I’ve made a request to them,” he says. Walski relies heavily on 70 student staffers that supplement his two full-time employees. “I have a lot of high expectations with my students,” says Walski. There were five rapes on the Winona campus in 2007, up from one in 2006, but only seven burglaries on the campus during the two years. Off-campus crime? Zilch.

#12, Fashion Institute of Technology

Student Population: 9,938
The biggest city in America is also one of the safest, and numerous New York schools would have made this list if not for our methodology that excludes commuter schools. As such, FIT, which houses about 20 percent of its students in its Manhattan residence halls, is the only New York City school to make our cut. “Our campus is primarily on a single city block, so we’re contained,” says Sherry Brabham, vice president for finance and administration (the security department reports to her). “Our dorms are right across the street from our academic buildings so in some ways we’ve created a little community here within New York City.” While violent crime was generally low, FIT incurred five rapes in the nearby vicinity in 2007. There were no assaults or robberies on public property for the same year.

Donna Barry / Utah State University

#13, Utah State University

Student Population: 14,893
For years Morgan Quitno Press, a research and publishing company, has ranked Logan, Utah, as one of the safest metropolitan areas in the country. No surprise then that Logan’s Utah State is one of the nation’s safest schools. “Generally our students are conservative so we have good students, we have good faculty, and we live in a safe community,” says Utah State Police Chief Steve Mecham. “We’re working together—that’s where we maintain the safety that we have.”

#14, Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania

Student Population: 8,325
Score another one for the rural campuses. Slippery Rock University in Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania, is about 50 miles north of Pittsburgh, but with a town population of less than 4,000 it might as well be a million miles away. There was only one reported burglary and no assaults on campus in 2007, an improvement from four burglaries and one assault in 2006. “The surrounding area is a very safe area,” says Rita Abent, executive director for university public relations. “If we’re sitting in the middle of a city there’s just a lot more opportunity for crimes to happen.”

#15, Central Connecticut State

Student Population: 12,106
There were four rapes reported on the Central Connecticut Statecampus in 2007, up from none in 2006, and one reported arson in 2006. Still, because burglaries and other lesser crimes were low for the two years studied, Central Connecticut State claims the 15th spot on our list. “New Britain is a small city and it has its share of crime problems but I think the areas surrounding the campus are pretty safe,” says Police Chief Jason Powell. “It’s not just a story of success with a place because the key to public safety is partnerships.” Besides the campus escort services that are the norm on most campuses, Central Connecticut State uses closed-circuit televisions and emergency telephone boxes throughout its campus.

Rick Haye / Marshall University

#16, Marshall University

Student Population: 13,808
There was no crime reported off campus, including nearby parks or transit stops, at Marshall University for the two years studied. Seventeen burglaries on campus in 2006 and 2007 and the one arson for each of those years constituted the bulk of the crime there. Director of Public Safety Jim Terry cites a culture of honesty among West Virginia’s residents, since many of Marshall’s students are in-state. “Our students really contribute a lot to our having that low crime rate,” he says.

AP Photo

#17, Brigham Young University

Student Population: 34,174
Joseph Smith’s golden plates would have been safe at Brigham Young. Burglary reports were down from 39 on campus in 2006 to 20 on campus in 2007. Not bad for a school with nearly 35,000 students. Most other crime was negligible—an assault here, a robbery there, a couple of vehicle thefts in 2007—at the oldest institution in the educational system owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

#18, Georgia Southern University

Student Population: 16,841
Statesboro, Georgia, is home to Georgia Southern University, one of the safest schools in the country, and hosts a 2.2 million-square-foot Wal-Mart distribution center, the largest in the world. Putting big savings aside for a moment, the school did well on the most serious types of crime, but reported 17 burglaries, three robberies and one arson for 2006 and 2007 on campus. Crime in the campus vicinity and at non-campus buildings was low.

#19, The College of New Rochelle

Student Population: 6,266
The College of New Rochelle, a private Catholic school in New Rochelle, a small city just outside of New York, scored extremely well for on campus crime. There was not a single incident reported on campus in 2006 and 2007. The school’s ranking suffered due to crimes committed in its vicinity. There were two robberies and two assaults in 2006 and one robbery in 2007 on the streets surrounding the campus. This drop mirrored violent crime stats for New Rochelle, which have recently fallen.

#20, Quinnipiac University

Student Population: 7,216
Quinnipiac University, in Connecticut, is best known for its political and social polling, and thus should appreciate this methodological exercise. It had few on-campus burglaries for 2006 and 2007, although it reported four rapes in 2006 and two in 2007. Still, the serious crime rate overall was low for both years on campus. Hamden, the town Quinnipiac calls home, is in central Connecticut, just off Long Island Sound.

AP Photo

#21, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

Student Population: 9,994
All of the crime at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse in La Crosse, Wisconsin occurred on its campus, which is primarily residential. Burglaries and robberies were on the low end for a school of its size. Serious crime was a nonstarter. The outlier: three reports of arson in 2007.

Courtesy of SCSU

#22, Southern Connecticut State University

Want proof that a school does not need to located in the middle of a cornfield to make this list? Southern Connecticut State University is located in New Haven, Connecticut, the same city of 120,000 that hosts Yale, which made our list of 25 schools with the worst crime, using similar methodology. The school counted 13 burglaries, seven vehicle thefts and two rapes on campus for 2006 and 2007. Not bad totals for a school of nearly 12,000 students. Crime in the areas surrounding campus was low.

#23, Michigan Technological University

Student Population: 6,744
Michigan Technological University, located in the small town of Houghton, Michigan, probably could have ranked higher on our list. There were no serious crimes on campus in 2006, and one reported rape in 2007. There was not a single reported robbery for either year. A rash of 13 reported burglaries on campus bumped Michigan Tech down to the 23rd spot.

Wesley Hitt / Getty Images

#24, Texas A & M

Student Population: 46,542
When you think of Texas A & M in the Top 25, you think of national championship Aggie football and of competitive basketball. Not safety. The raw numbers could, in fact, lead one to think that Texas A & M is in fact quite unsafe: 16 reported rapes, 76 burglaries, 15 robberies and 22 vehicle thefts during 2006 and 2007 on campus. But keep in mind that Texas A & M has a student body that's bigger than the population of most small cities. Everything’s relative, and on a per-capita basis, the Aggies excel in crime avoidance.

#25, Texas Woman's University

Student Population: 12,168
Texas Woman’s University has four residential halls at its 270-acre campus in Denton and is best known for training nurses and other health-care professionals. Despite its name, the school began admitting men to all degree programs in 1994 amid student protests. The current ratio of men to women is roughly 1:11. Texas Woman’s University serious crime rate on campus is virtually nonexistent, except six cases of assault during 2006 and 2007.