How dangerous is Kent, REALLY?

Simon Husted

Every year, universities that receive federal funding for student financial aid programs must submit on-campus crime statistics by Oct. 1 to the FBI.

Although he couldn’t disclose how crimes are rated, Richards said violent offenses are weighted more heavily than non-violent crimes for’s ranking.

The only two colleges whose safety ranked ahead of Kent State were Cuyahoga Community College and Lakeland Community College — neither offer housing on campus.

Nationally, the Web site ranked Kent State’s safety 157th among 450 other universities.

Although 2009 crime statistics are not mandated until Oct. 1, Kent State made its 2009 crime statistics available earlier this semester.

President Lester Lefton said students, faculty and the Kent State Police Department deserve credit for the campus’ high safety ranking. He added that crimes committed recently were the result of non-local actors.

“What’s happened has been off-campus, in the city, and I’m not sure if all of the people involved, but most of the people involved, were from Akron and other communities, coming into our community,” Lefton told the Daily Kent Stater’s administration reporter in an interview.

But some students said they found Kent State’s ranking misleading.

“This is supposed to be a really safe school and a really safe community, but I don’t believe that for anything,” said Taylor Daugherty, sophomore interpersonal communications major.

The Youngstown native said after the robberies last semester and the death of Christopher Kernich, her perception about the safety in the Kent State community has worsened.

“The only reason I came here is because I thought it was going to be better and safer than Youngstown,” Daugherty said.

Sgt. Rick O’Neill, who has worked for the Kent State Police Department for 15 years, said’s rankings still carry weight regardless of crimes that occur in the city of Kent.

He said every university police department excludes off-campus crimes in the FBI report regardless of the incident’s proximity. While it may not accurately determine safety, O’Neill said comparing on-campus crime statistics is a fairer method to compare safety between universities.

“People are always going to have opinions about safety based on their experiences,” O’Neill said.

Daugherty said she plans to transfer to Youngstown State University next semester for more affordable living.

She said she has visited the university countless times to see her brother and other friends who go there. Although the city has a bad reputation for crime, she said, the university does a good job isolating itself from the dangerous activity.

“Unless you have night classes (at YSU), I wouldn’t be worried about anything,” she said.

Daugherty said she thinks the KSUPD needs to be more visible.

“I want to see their faces,” she said. “I want to see them; not their car, not some ticket laying somewhere. I want to just pass some of them when they’re on campus and say hello. I want to know who they are.”

But Megan Riley disagrees about the campus’ visibility efforts. She said although authorities are not always present, the campus is well lit at night and there’s always people walking around.

“I’ve never felt unsafe in Kent,” the junior integrated mathematics education major said. “Walking around by myself as a young lady, I’ve never worried about that.”

Riley said the same applies to her apartment complex, Silver Meadows.

“Everyone keeps telling me that it’s not the safest neighborhood, but I’ve never had any problems there,” she said.

Contact safety reporter Simon Husted at [email protected].