Colleges grow more violent with society

February 19, 1994|By Thomas W. Waldron | Thomas W. Waldron,Sun Staff Writer Contributing writer Karen Ludwig contributed to this article.

As society has grown more violent, so too have colleg campuses.

That sad fact was reinforced by the fatal stabbing Thursday night of a 22-year-old Morgan State University student.

On campuses nationwide, 17 slayings were reported in 1992, the most recent year for which figures are available, according to a survey of crime statistics compiled by the Chronicle of Higher Education. And while that number was down from 18 the year before, other crimes such as assaults and armed robberies increased.

"Unless these urban campuses have figured out a way to put a brick wall around their campuses, they're going to have those problems," said Michael McNair, deputy chief of police at the University of Maryland College Park.

Security has become a major concern at most colleges. Emergency telephones now dot campuses and escort services are usually available.

The result is that campuses are generally safer than their surrounding neighborhoods, said Dorothy G. Siegel, executive director of the Campus Violence Prevention Center at Towson State University.

But crime inevitably intrudes.

A student at the University of Maryland College Park was stabbed last year by a nonstudent during a fight that started as they played basketball.

Last month, two students at Norfolk State University in Virginia were shot in their dormitory room, one fatally.

Another student has been charged in the shootings.

In Baltimore, two Johns Hopkins University students were abducted and robbed near the campus on Jan. 31. In December, a student at Loyola College was robbed on campus by three men who claimed to be armed with a gun.

Last fall, a 14-year-old boy was shot during a fight that broke out amid hundreds of people preparing to attend Morgan's homecoming football game.

At Morgan Thursday, Sean Jones, 22, a junior from Elmsford, N.Y., was stabbed to death. Police said the stabbing happened during a dispute that began when a man, apparently not a student, kicked Mr. Jones' car. Two other students also were stabbed.

"Most of the crime on college campuses involves students on students and is not somebody coming in with a plan to commit crime," Ms. Siegel said.

Across the country, 774 colleges reported 3,224 aggravated assaults in 1992, up 2 percent from 3,141 the year before, and 1,353 robberies, an increase of 12 percent from 1991, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education study. The number of reported burglaries fell 4 percent, to 21,478.

Many students are cavalier about their safety. Others are not.

"I feel paranoid," said Logan Hankins, of Fairfield, Conn., a junior at Loyola. "I'm scared when I go to the bank machine, and campus is not much safer."

Steve Tabeling, Loyola's head of security, said, "We try to create lTC a lot of visibility to keep strangers off of our campuses. But when you have open campuses there's not much we can do."

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