The 2011 campus safety report indicates decreases in some categories of on-campus criminal activity in 2010, while other classes of crime spiked. The report, released annually as mandated by the 1990 Clery Act, provides an overview of the criminal activity on campus in a given year and offers a glimpse at larger trends.
The number of forcible sex offenses and aggravated assaults decreased on campus from 2009 to 2010.
Three forcible sex offenses were reported in 2010, two fewer than the previous year, and one aggravated assault was reported, five fewer than in 2009.
The College of William and Mary Police Chief Don Challis said he hoped the decrease in reported sexual assaults was due to an actual decline in the number of incidents.
“So often it’s how comfortable a survivor feels about contacting us,” he said. “Hopefully they’re going down.”
Some crime rates did escalate. Last year saw the first arrest for illegal weapons possession on campus since 2002. Burglary, defined as unlawful entry into a structure with the intent to commit a crime, increased on campus in 2010. There were 23 incidents reported, up from 17 in 2009. This reflects an upward trend in
burglaries on campus over the past 10 years.
“We’re working hard with faculty, staff and students to encourage people to report those things,” Challis said. “Either our students and community feel better about contacting us, which we hope is the case, or there are more of these things going on. In tough economic times, you’re likely to have a few more things walk away.”
Challis said most on-campus burglaries occur when students enter other students’ rooms.
“Lock your doors,” he said. “The biggest thing that we see is most of these crimes are crimes of convenience.”
Local police recorded 26 liquor law violations on public property last year, which was nine more than recorded in 2009, but nowhere near the 106 noted in 2005.
Williamsburg Police Major Greg Riley said he had not noticed an increase in student liquor law violations, but offered what he called common-sense advice for avoiding legal trouble.
“Don’t commit the crimes,” he said. “Make sure you have a designated driver — that helps you avoid the problem with drunk-driving charges. This applies with using the buddy system when you go out and party. Make sure someone is responsible enough to make sure everyone gets home safe and sound.
A group of friends should be able to trade that off so everyone has a good time throughout the college year.”
Lisa Sthreshley ’12 said she has not noticed much fluctuation in crime during her three and a half years at the College and that she feels safe on campus.
Recent safety notices from College administrators have not fazed her.
“I always feel like all the emails from Ginger Ambler talk about things happening right off campus,” Sthreshley said. “And that doesn’t affect me because I don’t really go off campus.”
For traveling off campus, Riley advised students to be aware of their surroundings, stay out of poorly lit areas, know the serial numbers of their electronic items and report suspicious activity.
Sthreshley said she thinks students at the College could take more precautions to ensure their own safety.
“I’m an orientation aide, and during one training session the assistant dean of students said that William and
Mary students are a little too trusting and don’t report strange behavior they see on campus,” she said. “I think that’s true.”
“If something looks suspicious, act accordingly,” he said.