Two days after the government deadline for college reporting of campus crime statistics, the U.S. Department of Education now has a database of crime rates at most colleges and universities that is available online.
But differences in schools' interpretations of the reporting requirements means that the information may not allow for direct comparisons of the crime rates at Harvard and at other schools.
Harvard used information on crime from the Harvard University Police Department (HUPD), as well as from the cities of Cambridge, Boston and Somerville to compile the reports, according to Peggy A. McNamara, HUPD spokesperson.
But schools define for themselves which areas are "reasonably contiguous places" and must therefore be included in campus crime figures, according to Howard K. Clery III, treasurer of Security on Campus, Inc., an organization that works on reporting and preventing campus crime.
Schools' different standards mean that the results in the government index may vary from those of other groups that rank campus safety.
For example, the self-reported crime statistics in the database suggest that Yale's campus is safer than Harvard's, even though New Haven has higher theft, murder and violent crime rates than Cambridge--and is listed as money.com's 195th safest city, compared to Cambridge's 40th safest city rating.
The self-reported statistics suggest that that Harvard's crime rates exceed those of Yale in almost every major category, from aggravated assault to burglary to forcible sex offenses.
A Yale Police Department spokesperson declined comment yesterday on how Yale compiled its statistics and whether its definition of a reasonably contiguous area differed from Harvard's.
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