Students share feelings of safety in light of annual security and fire report

With thousands of students, jobs and social events, Oakland University can feel like its own city. And like any city, OU has to deal with crime within its walls. But do the feelings of OU students reflect the actual state of safety on campus?

The Oakland University Police Department (OUPD) released their annual security and fire report Monday, Sept. 30. Distributed via email with physical copies available via Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, the report details crime and fire statistics across OU’s Rochester Hills main campus, Mt. Clements Anton/Frankel Center, the Macomb University Center in Clinton Township and Focus: HOPE Institute in Detroit. The report covers statistics for the years 2016, 2017 and 2018. 

The crimes OUPD tracks on page 40 of the report range from robberies and liquor/drug law violations to rape, hate crimes and killings (murder and manslaughter), each offense classified in line with the FBI’s reporting handbook. All crimes committed occurred on the main Rochester Hills campus.

When it comes to finding out the least common crimes at OU, the easiest place to start is with the most shocking of offenses: killing or extreme violence.

“Anything that would deem the campus fully unsafe, anything that would cause a lockdown on campus I feel is least common,” sophomore Jay Hayward said.

Hayward’s beliefs, to the relief of many, ring mostly true to the report. Murders and manslaughters have been absent at OU for the three years monitored, while a combined 17 instances of aggravated assault, domestic violence and dating violence were reported in 2018. However, this is an increase from 10 reported incidents in 2017. Arrests for illegal weapons were made twice in 2018.

Arson was a low-occurring crime, reported to OUPD only three times in 2018 and never in 2016 or 2017. Combined with an unintentional grease fire back in 2016, only four fires are mentioned in the report. An unintentional fire in Vandenberg Hall was not included in the report.

While the stats tell OU students to not be afraid of serial killers and at least be aware for the odd serial arsonist, how students see the most common crimes typically does not entirely line up.

“Probably smoking,” freshman Nick Spinale said regarding his thoughts on the most common on-campus crime. While OU is a smoke-free campus, reports of smoking were not singled out in the report. Twenty-three drug violation arrests were made in 2018, down from 34 in 2017. But the most common crime was alcohol violations, reaching a grand total of 31 for 2018.

Sexual assault on college campuses is a known common crime, as sophmore Sidra Rao attests.

“I know last year there was some stuff about sexual assault, but I feel like that is common on colleges, sadly,” Rao said. 

There were 16 reports of sexual crimes (rape and fondling) and 13 reports of stalking in 2018, up from nine and four reports in 2017, respectively. The report also pointed out 43 prevention and awareness programs for students and six for employees that were available in 2018.

The report also outlines ways for students to remain safe on campus, such as walking in groups after dark and keeping valuables locked away in a trunk or dorm — useful considering the six reported thefts in 2018. Blue light emergency phones can be found around campus and at the Greek Cottages. OUPD recommends reporting suspicious behavior on campus.