By Thomas Byrne
The University of Tampa is the safest college in Florida.
That is according to the Safest College Campuses in America report, conducted by YourLocalSecurity.com. The report uses data from the United States of Education’s Campus Safety and Security and the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports, compiling data from the last three years.
Their study focused on public, private, or non-profit colleges that have at least 5,000 students, and offer two- or four-year degrees.
1,000 colleges fit all the criteria for the study, and only 395 of them submitted data to the FBI.
According to the report, schools were evaluated based on three factors: violent, property, and hate as well as Violence Against Women Act crimes, each per 10,000 people.
UT was the highest school in the ranking from Florida, and 19th in the nation.
According to UT’s Annual Security and Fire Safety Report, of all the crimes committed on campus between 2017 and 2019, nearly 99 percent of them were either drug or alcohol related. The vast majority of students getting in trouble were irresponsibly having fun.
Campus safety is patrolling UT’s campus 24 hours a day, seven days a week the entire year.
Another important tool at UT is the LASER team, a service that provides escorts for people around campus. They can be called for transport assistance for nearly any reason; injury, disability, harsh weather, or for general safety.
“I feel like the level of safety is largely impacted by the presence of campus safety more than the LASER team,” said Mariah Haronian, a student at UT. “Having campus safety around all hours makes me more comfortable walking around on campus, especially late at night.”
The LASER team also operates until either 1 or 2 a.m. depending on the day of the week, giving students a safe option at the most vulnerable times of the day.
On the “Personal Safety Reminder” page on the UT website, UT suggests several tips that can assist people in staying safe.
A link to “6 Safety Apps Every Student Should Download” brings people right to tools they can download onto their phone. UT has even created their own safety app. The Spartan SOS campus safety app is another level of protection students are offered. Every second matters in an emergency, and students who download this app have a way to contact campus safety as quickly as possible.
The app also lets users set a timer that will alarm a friend or guardian if they do not get to their destination in time. UT has even put in software-based panic buttons on staff devices, allowing them to get help as quickly as a student would if they were in trouble.
Having a safe campus can be a deciding factor for high school graduates trying to pick a college. Many other schools have more sexual and violent crimes, and even more issues once they are reported. According to a survey from the Association of American Universities, only 65 percent of students felt that a report of sexual assault would be taken seriously.
The survey said people who actually were reporting crimes had even less confidence they would be heard, with only 45 percent believing they would be taken seriously.
According to the Safest College Campuses in America report, the top six safest schools in the country all come from New York City. Each of those universities has their own security on-site 24 hours a day, and most have at least one app that offers an immediate connection to the security officers and other emergency alert services.
UT already does some of the same things these higher-ranked schools do such as constant security and apps to help people get help.
“I really feel safe on campus seeing the LASER team always driving around. It just makes you feel comfortable, especially at night time knowing that someone is there to protect you,” said Peter Scouras, marketing major.