Introduction as being some of the safest places

Introduction

In 2015, there were 36,248 crime related incidents
reported to authorities on college campuses. 
This is according to https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=804.  Although this
number isn’t large in comparison to total crime in the United States, it is
still a high number that has plenty of room to change for the better.  Especially because people commonly assume
college campuses as being some of the safest places a person can be.  There is a law in place to help with campus
crime called the Clery Act.  Like the
FBI’s UCR, this act requires institutions receiving federal financial aid to
report all crime occurring on campuses to the government. However, there is
some confusing data associated with the Clery act.  Even with 36,248 crimes reported, there was
an astounding 252,775 disciplinary actions taken in the same year.  This may suggest that there is much more
crime happening on campus than schools are reporting.  Facts like these would be great to apply
research to.  I found that other’s research
about my topic is greatly lacking.  Some
may wonder if this is on purpose or not. 
For example, a large part of the research community are professors at
higher education institutions.  it is
possible they may not want to put their place of work in a negative light.  Whatever the case may be, it certainly helps
to add any research possible to help the Clery Act and to help put an end to
campus crime.

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To help understand how we can make the yearly campus
crime rate come down, my research will center around campus crime on the MSUB
campus.  Specifically, students and staff
will be asked their opinion about crime and what can be done to lower it.  Formally, my research question is, “How satisfied are MSUB students and staff with current programs
for on-campus victims”?  With my research topic, I hope to add
to the very little exploratory research that currently exists.  Assessing how we can lower the yearly crime
rate for institutions.  I feel the best
way to evaluate students and staff is with an open-ended survey.  This survey would work best with a non-probability
sampling method and an availability sampling method as well.   Overall,
a survey would help guarantee feasibility. 
With the fast-paced life of a college student or staff, people do not
have time for long interviews or annoying emails.  Open-ended questions would allow participants
to make their own choices for questions rather than me pre-determining their
answers for them.

 

Literature Review

Although there is little research, there are some
researchers that have questioned certain traits or unique attributes that may
cause campus crime.  Studies show certain
geographic characteristics and student features can influence campus crime
levels.  One descriptive research article
written by Matt R. Nobles, Kathleen A. Fox, David N. Khey, and Alan J. Lizotte expresses that
campus are not reporting because schools are geographically confused with terms
of the Clery Act.  The question they are researching
is: how does geography affect report rates the department of education?  They found that crimes are happening across
the street from campus, and are not being reported.  Although under the Clery Act’s guidelines,
crimes that happen near or around a school must be reported.  These authors state that institutions are
finding a geographical loophole and choosing not to report to the proper
authorities.   It seems all too common
that schools are finding ways to get out of reporting to the department of education
and this research finds nothing different. 
This finding will certainly affect my questions on the survey.  I will ask students and staff if they have
ever been a victim of crime that has been just off campus.  If so, I will ask them if campus police were
called or if a different department handled the situation.  My research will fill in some gaps that these
researchers have overlooked.  If staff
have seen crime happening near campus and did not report it I will ask why they
choose not to.  Hopefully those findings
will help shine some new light on things.

      J. Fredericks Volkwein, Bruce P. Szelest
and Alan J. Lizotte expressed ideas about certain characteristics of students
being the catalyst for crime rates.  They
gave an example of a student who pays higher than normal fees for his/her dorm
at the institution.  Students that feel
singled out or are under a larger amount of stress than normal are the individuals
who are most likely to commit on campus crime. 
This research is an example of trying to figure out why crime is
committed as opposed to a generic quantitative article offering
statistics.  More articles like these
should be published to further understand what sorts of therapy can be offered
to possibly troubled students.  This
study will affect my research.  For those
individuals who have commit a crime on campus, I will look closely at their
reasons.  I will try to compare my
findings to this academic article.  It
makes total sense that a student that is singled out or is under more stress
would be more apt to commit a crime.  The
research goes on to say that the higher the selectivity and pressure the
institution puts on a student, the chance that he or she will commit a crime
increases.  I hope that my research can
fill some gaps in this research. I will ask individuals who take my survey why
the commit crime.  I hope that I can find
new patterns or reasons that will add on to these author’s research.

Other research has
been produced with the idea of if higher education facilities complying with school-based
legislation such as the Clery Act.  While there are certain regulations such as that Clery
Act, studies revealed that not only are schools not complying, but they are not
recording the proper data (reported crimes). 
James E, Guffey used explanatory research to address the lack of proper
data recording by higher institutions. 
According to his research, in the years 2002-2006, hospitals and similar
organizations recorded a higher amount of on campus victimization than what was
reported by campuses.  In fact, 49 out of
58 of said organizations produced different data than what was produced by
higher education institutions.  Guffey
determined that there have been ongoing problems surrounding the Clery
Act.  Like Nobles, Fox, Khey, and Lizotte’s
research, Guffey explained that the institutions blamed the mismatched numbers on
unclear standards of the Clery Act.

            Guffey’s
research contributes to the overall study of on campus crime.  Schools need to be held accountable as to why
they are not reporting the correct numbers. 
While not knowing guidelines seems like a weak excuse, at least his
research brings attention to the failing institutions.  While Guffy’s research covers all the bases,
I feel that he could have expanded a lot more on his research.  I could not find what he had to say
specifically about separate schools.  My
research will hopefully help to fill this gap. 
I will specifically be evaluating data at MSUB.  I will be asking staff on my survey if they
know the guidelines of the Clery Act. 
Hopefully I can start a trend where fellow researchers study specific
schools and identify underlying factors as to why the requirements for the
Clery Act are not being understood. 

            A different study expresses the ways
in which schools are blatantly in non-compliance with the requirements of the
Clery Act.  In 2010, researcher Nancy C
Cantalupo asked how colleges and universities should respond to peer sexual
violence on campus.  Her exploratory
research focuses on the legal side of the issue.  She found that in 2004, Ohio State University
experienced two acts of rape on their campus. 
In 2006, campus security was forced under the law to sue the institution
because the rapes were not reported to the Department of Education.  Her research continues by expressing findings
like James Guffey’s.  Schools blamed
their non-reporting on unclear knowledge of legal requirements stated by the
Clery Act.  Cantalupo’s research does
express some legal punishments that schools will face if they do not follow the
rules of the Clery Act.  While my
research is not specifically assessing legal issues, I may change my questions
to fill in that gap.  An example of my
new question would be, “Are you aware of punishments higher institutions face
if they do not report crime to the Department of Education”?

Research has been
proposed to determine rates and types of crime on campus and if students know
what schools are doing to protect them.  It was revealed that property crime takes the
top spot in campus crime, and students are unaware of any laws or legislature that
protects them from campus crime.  Quantitative
research published by the United States Government in 2014 expressed different
crime types that occur on college campuses. 
It was found that above all others, property crime is the highest.  Since this article was released by the
government, I am more apt to believe that the data is completely accurate.  I will look for property crime related
patterns when I collect my data associated with MSUB.  My research may yield differing results than
the findings of the government.  For
example, if violent crimes are more prevalent at MSUB, I can help to shape the
national data to be more accurate.  This
will help to fill in gaps because of the lacking data from smaller, more
specific schools.    

            Charles Chekwa asked if students knew about legislation
in place to protect them from being victimized. 
His exploratory research states that students are fearful to walk around
campus.  At the same time, however,
students have no knowledge of laws or legislation that protects them from
crime.  He explains that there are some
current security measures in place by some campuses.  However there needs to be a continuing effect
to “harden the target”.  Essentially
Chewka deems it necessary to have an abundance of crime deterrence methods to further
increase campus safety.  Chekwa gives a
fair assessment of current security installations vs the need for more effort
from higher institutions.  I hope to add
to his research by asking staff specifically if they know of any current
security installations currently at MSUB that would deter crime.  I do expect to see similar patterns between
mine and Chekwa’s research.  I think I
will find that students have no idea of current legislation or laws in place to
protect them from crime. 

As far as research on
the success of deterring on campus crime, the results are mixed.  While
some schools are putting forth efforts to educate students of the dangers,
other schools may retaliate against students who do not fit the university’s
bias.  Sierra Lyda expressed her research
in both quantitative and qualitative ways. 
Her study was of the UNC campus to specifically find out of the school
is being proactive in its deterrence of crime. 
Her quantitative tables articulated different crime rates of specific
crimes that occurred on campus in 2003. 
While her qualitative, exploratory research explained the ways in which
UNC is trying to “harden the target”. 
The same concept researcher Charles Chekwa brought to light.  Lynda found that UNC is one institution that makes
a large effort to lower campus crime. 
Use of cameras, stationed security guards, and campus shuttles are just
a few of the security additions at UNC. 
Lynda’s research adds valuable information to the overall issue of
campus crime.  She discusses what one
popular university is doing to help stop crime and hopefully other universities
will follow suit.  My data at MSUB will hopefully
expand on hers and fill a few gaps.  I
will ask questions about how we can deter crime.  Also, I will look for patters at to what
people think would be effective installations. 
Hopefully some new ideas will surface.

            On
the other side of the coin, researcher Mike Ratliff uses exploratory research
to determine that some campuses show a bias towards their students and
staff.  Ratliff expressed that schools
tend to hire individuals with similar views. 
For example, if a school is primarily conservative in its values, then Ratliff’s
research shows that the staff would most likely also be conservative because of
hiring biases.  Ratliff’s research expresses
that because of these prejudices, students with different options or special needs
would be overlooked when it comes to preventing certain crimes.  Ratliff’s research is very beneficial because
it discusses deeper reasons as to why colleges may be neglecting to adequately
protect their students and staff. 
Between Lynda’s pro-active research and Ratliff’s research, Lynda seems
to be looking for the positive side of preventing campus crime through
institutional installments, while Ratliff wants to point out the faults in the
hiring process of higher institutions. 
Ratliff’s research is useful because it presents data that people may
not think is an issue within higher institutions.  One of my questions will reflect Ratliff’s
research.  I will ask staff what political
party they side with and I will look for a pattern. 

 

 Research Design and Methods

            To accurately record
and interpret data that I receive, I must pay close attention to my research
design and methods.  As previously
stated, my formal research question is, “How satisfied are MSUB students and
staff with current programs for on-campus victims?”  My research will me exploratory because I
will be assessing “how” satisfied students and staff are.  I will also be looking for patterns in my
survey as to what they feel should be done to deter on-campus crime.  With my research, I hope to spread a greater
understanding of a few concepts that are associated with school crime.  First, I hope to figure out if schools even
recognize certain traits about students and the surrounding geography that may
promote crime.  Another concept, is to
find out if schools are complying with the regulations of the Clery Act and if
they are reporting the correct data. 
Also, I would like to determine the most common forms of crime that
happen to students and staff, and their knowledge of what is being done to
protect them.  Finally, I want to see
what is already in place to prevent said crime, and if some schools are showing
an institutional bias. 

            My
research design will be cross sectional. 
I will be taking my survey at one point in time from a sample of
students and staff.  Clearly
cross-sectional is fast and easy for individuals at a college.  However, I also feel that this is the best
option because participant’s answers will not vary much over time unless
something drastic happens to change their opinion.  In other words, I don’t need to do a longitudinal
or trend design because I can achieve validity in my results at one point in
time.  The best way to record my data is
a survey.  Surveys are fast and easy but
those aren’t the only reasons I will be using one to achieve my data.  I simply do not need to do in-depth
interviews and certainly not a method like participant observation to get my
results.  Surveys are also very
informal.  People may be more apt to give
honest responses when they don’t feel they are “on the spot” as much as with an
interview.  I will ask a series of
questions that relate to on campus crime at MSU Billings.  Furthermore, my questions will be open-ended
to help avoid pre-determined answers for the participant.  Some of my data will be qualitative because I
hope to get valuable information on how crime can be deterred.  However, my date will also be quantitative
because I want to compare crime rates and types at MSUB to national statistics. 

            The
sample frame will be the entirety of the MSUB campus both students and
staff.  I will easily have access to my
sampling frame simply because I live on campus. 
I will set up a table in the SUB at MSUB.  To get people to approach my table I will be proactively
asking passing individuals if they have time to take my survey.  I will also have free candy for those who
participate.   I hope to reach the quota of 100 students and
50 staff.  Gender should not matter as I
am simply collecting general data.  My
sampling method does have its drawbacks however.  For example, because I am using availability
sampling, this means that the only individuals exposed to my survey will be the
ones at the time and place I select.  To
help combat this limitation, I will set up my table at a location and time at
MSUB to maximize exposure to my population. 
Lunchtime hours and a spot right in front of Stingers Coffee should
suffice.  Also, I will make sure to not
generalize because the population of MSUB is so small. 

            On
my survey, there will be several questions that can help me better understand
crime at MSUB.  Other than my main
research question, some questions will help to measure overall victim
rates.  Others will establish an age and
gender range although not needed, it may show a valuable pattern in crime rates.  My questions will establish knowledge of on
campus programs for victims, and to see what the leading crime is at MSUB.  Also, other questions will assess if students
report the crime or even if they have had reasons as to why they did or did not
report.  I hypothesize that if students
and staff are unsatisfied with on-campus programs for victims, crime at MSUB
will be more prevalent. 

 

Plan for Analysis

            After collecting my
data, I will need a plan for how I will comprehend or analyze it.  I will be doing a survey, so my data will primarily
be quantitative that will eventually be calculated into statistics.  If I do find skewed areas in my data, most
likely I will ignore these because they won’t reflect the actual averages.  I will be using deductive reasoning because I
will be assessing a smaller sample and associating it with results on a larger
more national level.  I feel that if I
were analyzing national data, more formal graphs would be useful in expressing
the results.  However, for the local data
at MSUB, if feel that a pie chart would be the most expressive for my
findings.  My data would be small enough
that I would be able to display it on a pie chart.  Also pie charts are colorful and nice to look
at if I were to present to a class of college students for example. 

            I
do expect there to be patterns within my data. 
I will specifically look for certain results of my findings to match
national results.  For example, females are typically victimized far more than men
when it comes to sexual crimes.  While
looking at my results, I will expect to see a higher percentage of females to
be victims of sexual harassment than males. 
I will also look for patterns of what student and staff suggest when deterring
crime. This is a very important statistic because as stated earlier, there is
very little research associated with this aspect. 

 Ethical Concerns

            As with any research, there are always ethical
concerns.  In my research I must make
sure to make every effort possible to protect the individuals involved with my
survey.  Every participant will receive
an informed consent form.  The paper will
state a description of the study and what is expected of them.  Also, it will inform people that they can
withdraw from the survey at anytime and that they must be 18 or older to
participate.  Individuals will be
informed that the survey is completely confidential.  Meaning that I may know who they are, but
others will not.  Their results will be
kept safe in my locked dorm room and destroyed after my research is over.  Also on the form, I will have my name and
contact information if participants have any further questions.  Another aspect of the survey that could be considered
an ethical concern is the subject matter. 
Talking about topics such as victimization and crime may bring up
thoughts of stress or anxiety.  Again,
not only are participants allowed to withdraw at any time, they will be aware
of these potential risks in the informed consent form. 

 

Limitations and Implications

Although I feel that
my research will be successfully completed, there will be limitations that need
to be recognized.  Even with the
limitations, my data will still be valuable and useful.  Previously, I have discussed my limitations
that I will be facing throughout my research. 
Three things that will potentially limit my research are: achieving accurate
data, location and time, and the content of the survey itself.  With my data, I hope to help researchers
figure out ways to lower the national on campus crime statistics.  MSU Billings is a very small campus, and it
is likely that crime is not even a big issue on the campus.  Added to that, there may not be enough
students and staff that participate in my survey to achieve accurate data
from.  In Montana, crime is not nearly as
common of an occurrence as say, Denver for example. 

            My
second possible limitation deals with location and time.  Similarly, to MSUB being a small campus, I
may not have enough students and staff come through my area to even take the
quiz to begin with.  Furthermore, even if
I can find a more ideal location, I may be exposed to the same students and
staff walking through that area.  As far
as time problems go, that depends greatly on class hours, current events, and meal
hours.  Also, my availability.  It may be hard to navigate a perfect time to
maximize exposure.  I may be unavailable,
or sports teams may be out of town. 
Also, some classes may not be finished yet.  These aspects could create a barrier stopping
me from achieving through data. 

            The
content of my survey could be considered highly controversial topic depending
on who you ask.  I will be talking about
victimization and crime that has happened to people.  Simply because some individuals may have
feelings of anxiety or fear come to their mind while taking my survey, they may
back out and chose not to participate. 
Also, some people may not have enough time to read all my content.  With a consent form and questions, it will
take some time that they may not have to complete. 

            However,
with all these limitations, my research is still beneficial and will contain
valuable information.  Even though MSUB
is a small campus, any data that is collected is still useful.  Even if my data is not accurate, it will not
skew the national average.  Plus, any accurate
data adds to the low amount of research that currently exists.  Even with potentially controversial material,
these questions need to be asked to contribute to the rest of the country.  Someone at MSUB may have a perfect idea to
help deter crime that hasn’t been thought of yet.  Overall, because research data is lacking,
any potential new data will have a positive impact.