Marquette makes list of safest college towns

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Trevor Drew

Travel distance, the quality of academic programs and affordability are all of the factors considered by parents when they send their children off to an institution of higher learning. Now parents and alumni can also add safety as reason to send their kids to school in the Upper Peninsula.

According to a recent report by SafeWise, a home security and safety brand committed to increasing safety education, awareness and preparedness in American communities, Marquette ranks 19th as the safest college town in the United States.

To generate the report, security experts at SafeWise evaluated the most recent FBI crime statistics available, which was gathered from local police departments in 2016 for the previous year.

“We used the data from 2015 for this report because it is the most recently available full data set,” Emily Long, a community outreach spokesperson for SafeWise, said.

College towns are specified on the list as places that have at least one accredited institution of higher learning within its boundaries.

Long said the list is purely based on demographic crime data gathered by the FBI from which Safe-Wise experts look at the property crimes and the violent crimes that were reported per 1,000 residents per population during the year. Initiatives and partnerships between campus and city police are also factors taken into account when rankings are determined.

“What’s going on in the city data can be reflective of safety on campus as well,” Long said. “For this list in particular, after we come up with that list of the Top 30 based on the data, we are looking at other things that are happening in town. When we were looking at Marquette in particular, we called out educational programs run by the Marquette City Police Department and safety is often the result of a collaboration between campus and city police in helping communities see the value of safe habits.”
Long emphasized that 70 percent of parents consider campus safety a critical factor which has an effect on choice of school.

“Often crime statistics, or the lack thereof, indicate a thriving community in which students and [city] residents both feel like they are important, like they matter, like they’re welcome or they can work together. When it comes to campus in particular, if safety is less of a concern then everyone is able to devote more energy and resources to their studies—to the programs that they’re involved in. It’s just one less thing that people feel more concerned about,” Long said.

Michigan Technological University in Houghton ranked 16th on the list, three spots above NMU.
Detective Lieutenant Guy LaPlante, an NMU Public Safety official, explained that crime is brought to a minimal on NMU’s campus because of the campus landscape, having well-lit areas available and blue phones at night, as well as the quality of community members that share Marquette. He added demographics play a key role in deterring and even preventing crimes around campus or in town.

“The way I see it is this: law enforcement may not solve a large percentage of crimes. Who solves them? It would be the community itself. People who will call in information. Maybe it’s witnesses or maybe it’s people that deter crime beyond law enforcement,” LaPlante said. “Our community is very proactive in a lot of cases on solving a lot of our crime.”

LaPlante said that resources like community outreach or anonymous tips via social media have a big impact on solving crimes. He said because NMU has so little foot traffic, that helps to maintain low crime rates. Local law enforcement operates as a single entity, constantly communicating and keeping the community updated as criminal activity takes place.

While larceny is one of the biggest crimes reported on campus, LaPlante noted, the Marquette community has very low rates of violent crime but the number of cases tend to rise when alcohol is involved.

SafeWise has been recognized by several reputable publications including The Huffington Post and US News for their home security brand comparisons and Safest Cities Reports. The list of 30 Safest College Towns in America can be found at www.safewise.com/blog/safest-college-towns- america/.