Several HBCUs were listed on the Daily Beast’s 25 Most Dangerous College Campuses. While the methodology may be viewed as inherently flawed (2007-08 crime data from local areas surrounding the listed campuses was factored into the weighting), the numbers that are factual are just that; factual.
In order, here are the HBCUs earning the dubious distinction of joining Yale and Harvard as the most dangerous campuses in America.
#21 Alabama A&M – A historically black land-grant university in Normal, Alabama, Alabama A&M was established in 1873 by the state legislature as the State Normal School and University for the Education of the Colored Teachers and Students with 61 students, two teachers, and a yearly budget of $1,000. Now the school has 6,000 students. Nearly all crimes happened on the campus, which is located close to Huntsville.
#15 Norfolk State – Norfolk State University, one of the largest historically black universities in the nation, is located in Norfolk, Virginia, a major military center with a higher-than-average crime rate. The school granted its first bachelor’s degree in 1956, and now offers two doctorate and 15 master’s degrees. There was one murder on campus in 2007.
#13 Hampton - Hampton University is a private, historically black university about 70 miles southeast of Richmond, Virginia. The first classes on the grounds were taught in 1861, in defiance of a state law forbidding teaching slaves and freed blacks to read and write. Doors opened in 1868, and the school still has a dress code. This spring, the campus was put on lockdown when a former student shot two people in a dorm and then killed himself. However, the most common crime on campus is burglary. “These crimes (especially looking at Duke, U Illinois, Yale) are random acts of violence that can happen anytime and anywhere,” the university said in a statement. “Hampton University is a very safe, gated campus surrounded on three-sides by water. Hampton University has an academy-trained police force who patrol on foot, bike and vehicle 24 hours a day seven days a week. All our dorms have a swipe-card access; in addition the front desks are manned 24 hours a day.”
#10 North Carolina Central – North Carolina Central’s name has been linked with crime before—but last time, it was when a stripper enrolled here falsely accused a group of white Duke lacrosse players of raping her. Racial tensions can run high in Durham, North Carolina, as can the crime rates: NCC weathered at least 45 burglaries, 10 assaults, and one murder in 2007. The majority of reported crimes were committed on campus.
#9 Bowie State – Maryland requires very strict crime reporting standards, and as a result, many of the state’s schools took a hit in our study. Located in suburban Prince George’s County, Bowie State’s crime problems are mostly its own, with few off-campus incidents reported. The campus saw 46 burglaries and eight assaults in 2007. Reached for comment, Bowie State’s Chief of Public Safety Ernest Waiters says, “We are pleased that Bowie State University is a safe campus community.”
#8 South Carolina State – During the civil-rights movement, this historically black college in Orangeburg, South Carolina was the site of the Orangeburg Massacre, a clash with state highway patrolmen that killed three students. Today, the crime is less dramatic: South Carolina State’s campus is particularly troubled by robberies and aggravated assaults.
#7 Grambling State - A historically black public university in rural Grambling, Louisiana, GSU’s student population is larger than their host town’s entire population. Crime at GSU is predominantly on campus: 2007 saw 99 on-campus burglaries, seven vehicular thefts, six assaults, and an arson. The good news? In the same time frame as our study, Grambling founded its GSU Police program, featuring community crime watches and increased resources for crime prevention. “We take campus safety and security very seriously at GSU,” says a school spokesperson.
#6 University of Maryland – Eastern Shore – Located in the small town of Princess Anne, with a population of less than 2,400, the quaintness masks some troubles: University of Maryland Eastern Shore’s campus has suffered though a high number of aggravated assaults and burglaries. Off-campus crime is practically non-existent. “There has been a decline in crime over the past two years as we tighten up security in the whole UM system,” responds the university’s police chief, Warren Sumpter. “At the direction of our Board of Regents, we have a committee of public safety officials to look at best practices and make sure they are implemented system wide. Also, the state of Maryland laws of reporting are stricter than other states and what we report under the Clery Act is sometimes different than other schools.”
So 32 percent of the nation’s most dangerous campuses are HBCUs, according to this research. But if you look at the total portrait that this article paints, six photos of HBCU campuses are shown; roughly 43 percent of the total number of pictures (14).
Now I’m not one to glaze over the facts. HBCUs need to improve their campus safety measures. They need to carefully examine the effects of their missions on recruiting and how it relates to overall campus crime. But I can take issue with the notion that the Daily Beast, purposefully or otherwise, presents a stark reality of college campuses, while communicating a subconscious tale about specific danger on HBCU campuses through its pictorial slideshow.
Just over a third of HBCUs are the worst in America when it comes to crime, but let the pictures tell it, more than 40 percent of them are worth your fear and loathing. Subconsciously done or not, it is something to ponder.
And in case you were wondering, no HBCUs made the safest colleges’ list.