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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

2011 sees increase in dorm crime

Crime in residence halls has increased by 49 percent from last year, according to a data analysis of campus police records.

There were 574 crime incidents at residence halls in 2011. In 2010 there were 386 incidents.

Most of the more violent crimes, such as physical and sexual assaults, occured in larger dorms or non-traditional area housing such as Babcock Residence Hall and Sky View Apartments, according to the data.

A review of the police data shows trends of crimes occurring in student halls that should raise concern among students and staff.

Coronado Residence Hall was a hot spot for criminal activity up until it was closed for renovations in summer 2011. It had the most crime on campus with 81, 106 and 108 criminal incidents in 2008, 2009 and 2010, respectively.

In September 2010, for instance, two groups of men, some of them UA students, were involved in a vicious fight right in front of the hall.

Andrew Gooding, a 19-year-old student at the time, was arrested after throwing a rock the size of softball at a fellow student, sending him to the hospital.

“Yeah, I’ve definitely heard about Coronado’s reputation, it was a big party scene,” said Amanda Bruno, an anthropology freshman.

University of Arizona Police Department officers are often called because resident assistants deem residents or their visitors to be dangerous.

“It’s usually the RAs because they’re the ones making the rounds in residence halls,” said Jose Bermudez, crime prevention officer for UAPD. “If they feel a person is belligerent, and if they ask them to leave and they won’t, then we encourage them to call 911.”

Before 2011, only four residence halls on campus regularly reported more than 20 crimes a year. But in 2011, 10 residence halls reported 20 or more crimes, according to the analysis.

Police say the increase in crime is not unexpected, as two new residence halls have opened. Also, over the past three years the freshman class has increased by about 300 students each year, according to data from the UA Office of Institutional Research and Planning Support.

Since Coronado’s closure, Arizona-Sonora Residence Hall has had 82 crime incidents in 2011, about a 67 percent increase in crimes from last year, according to the data. Arizona-Sonora is also the leader in minor in possessions, its most common crime, with 35 incidents, 10 more than last year.

In one case in September, a UAPD officer went to the hall after a resident assistant called about an intoxicated student. There, the officer found Tucson Fire Department medics treating a woman for a swelling cut above her left eye. She was crying while repeating, “I don’t want a minor (in possession), I don’t want my dad to find out,” according to the police report.

The female student said she had been drinking alcohol, including rum and vodka. Despite her pleas, she was cited for minor in possession and the medics transported her to University of Arizona Medical Center.

Residence Life officials said they have been trying to increase safety in dorms in recent years.

“It’s a much greater emphasis now than when I first started because there was an increase of incidents of residents being transported to the hospital and campus-wide concerns about crime,” said Greg Ziebell, assistant director for Residence Life. “So we wanted to do everything we could to help our residents to be more alert and more aware.”

The number of reports of drug possession in residence halls also doubled, from 90 reports in 2010 to 180 in 2011.

Kaibab-Huachuca Residence Hall had the most drug possession reports with 25 in 2011, according to the data. Sky View had 21, Likins Hall had 20 and Arizona-Sonora had 19.

“I’m not surprised,” said Bruno, a Kaibab-Huachuca resident. “I lived here and I know the people who live here so it’s not shocking.”

The UAPD analyzes times during the semester when illegal activity is most likely to occur, such as during Greek Life rush activities, at the beginning of the semester or when students return after break.

“That is when we see minors in possession of alcohol increase and underage drinking increase,” Bermudez said.

Despite an overall increase in crime, including charges for minors in possession of alcohol, the number of sexual assaults and rapes on campus has decreased since peaking in 2009 with three rapes and one attempted rape, according to the data.

In 2011, there were no documented cases of rape, but there were three sexual offense cases, one of which was molestation, police said.

However, UAPD officials believe that the low numbers of sexual assault may stem from a lack of reporting.

“If you look at our statistics, they’re relatively low compared to other institutions, but this type of crime often can go unreported,” said Sgt. Juan Alvarez, the UAPD public information officer. “Sometimes the students involved will go directly to the Dean of Students Office and not to us so we don’t get them right away.”

Because of the difference between filing a police report and telling the school’s administration, the police numbers are also different from those reported by the U.S. Department of Education. According to that department, there were five reported forcible sexual assaults in 2009, one in 2008 and eight in 2007.

Unlike the larger residence halls, the smaller halls typically have lower reports of criminal activity. Maricopa Residence Hall and Parker House, both smaller and all-female dorms, consistently have the fewest reports of crime each year, according to the police data.

Nevertheless, crime is indeed increasing in those dorms. In previous years, the five dorms with the fewest crimes reported between one and five crimes a year.

For 2011, the dorms with the fewest crimes occurring were Maricopa, with five; Parker, with eight; Navajo-Pinal Residence Hall, with 10; Coconino Residence Hall with 11 and Árbol de la Vida Residence Hall with 12.

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