University of New Hampshire
Political Science and Justice Studies
Mentor: Dr. Mardi Kidwell, UNH Department of Communication
Students’ Assessment of Crime and Safety in the Age of the Cleary Act
University and college campus security has become an issue of importance throughout the United States and has raised much attention and controversy. The main purpose of the Cleary Act is to give students access to, and increase their awareness of, the number of crimes that occur on their college and university campuses by mandating that campuses report crimes to the campus community (Aliabadi, 2007). The goal of the act is to increase safety, not only for the students living on the campuses, but also neighboring citizens, faculty and staff and their families. Nevertheless, the act can either impose fear on the campus community, or make students feel safer.
Students have become more aware of occurrences of crime on their respective campuses, and when choosing possible universities, they along with their parents/guardians, search for institutions that are high in security. The effectiveness of the Cleary Act has been examined and found not to be valuable at influencing students to change behaviors that are likely to place them in danger (Lipka, 2009). A three school study was conducted and the results found that students’ knowledge of the act and the use of the information contained in the reports was relatively low; however, students who were informed and read the materials that were distributed in various formats changed the way they protected their property and themselves (Janosik, 2003).
With the number of crime notifications that campus police departments send out to the community, it is important to know if these notices have changed students’ perception of and response to incidents of crime on campus. The specific objective of this research is to answer questions about the impact of the Cleary Act on students’ behavior and on their perceptions of crime at the University of New Hampshire. This research will also attempt to understand how UNH students assess the threat of crime in the age of the Cleary Act.