Updated: Nov 14, 2019
The campus of a college or university is designed to be a conglomeration of minds sharpening themselves for the betterment and advancement of society. Students, faculty, professors, and tourists swarm the grounds like a colony of ants - everyone on their way to something. Many of these institutions both a place of study as well as temporary homes to their students. Because of this, the responsibility to ensure a safe and comfortable environment to study and to live falls at the feet of the institution.
The countless concerns of residential life, monetary transactions, dietary accommodation information, and various other information that is confidential to every student is handled by the institution with the faith that it will be secured and protected. Achieving this goal to provide such an environment often requires the collaboration of multiple groups of Emergency Response, technology, and various other professionals with varying jurisdiction. With so many moving components, where should the concerns be for the students of today?
The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence claims that roughly 80% of enrolled college students profess to consume alcohol1. Studies consistently show, likely unsurprisingly, that the infringement of alcohol consumption laws are staple across most colleges in the US. Outside of alcohol, the National Center for Education Statistics shows that the top three crimes committed on college campuses were vandalism and property damage (of varying degrees), intimidation, and assault2; all with an up-trend from 2015 to 2016. These can be and usually are relatively simple cases to process on the part of the university and law enforcement, but situations involving a mixture of students and non-students can become more complex. In addition to these numbers, there is a significant, and growing, concern about crimes and offenses committed by students either in locations outside of the institution’s jurisdiction or those that do not get reported for any number of reasons.
Another concerning statistic that made the top ten in the NCES’s list3 is sexual assault and other forcible sexual offenses. In the last 20 years, reports of these offenses reportedly increased by over 260% specifically on campuses4. In addition to this, as of 2018, studies report that up to 90% of these offenses on campus go unreported5. There are countless factors that play into these unfortunate instances, but these rather concerning statistics incite simultaneously the desire for response and the dilemma of unreported crimes. It is this dilemma that many are still working to resolve in the near future.
As always in the technologically expanding society that we live in, data management can either be a point of concern or of pride. Especially in the academic environment, a security or privacy breach could result in a violation of (intellectual) property rights. In another case, a student could reasonably face academic honesty scrutiny were there to be a breach. These institutions have access to personal identification information, tax and banking information, private details about the students’ families, and countless other details. Beyond the superficial peace of mind derived from having a personal identification number to swipe into buildings and to check one’s grades, it seems fitting for these institutions to stay on the cutting edge of cyber-security in the interest of protecting the students and the academic progress that these institutions stand to facilitate.
Whether the concerns be residential, academic, a combination, or unrelated, colleges and academic institutions in the US have a responsibility, in conjunction with the respective localities, to make every effort to provide a platform for a multilateral and vibrant environment in which students and professionals can begin to shape the present and the future. As time changes, so do the relevant risks and concerns. Some problems are more arduous to address than others, but some still do raise some alarm. With the joint forces of vigilant student bodies, the proper resources available, and the proper technology and staff, the patterns of progress have no reason not to continue. However, a failure to properly address and alleviate the problems at present allows the same issues to spread and compound.
4 Chronicle of Ed.
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