On Nov. 13, 2022, four students from the University of Idaho were fatally stabbed in their home close to campus in Moscow, Idaho. This incident ignited a conversation amongst college students around the world about their safety on their own college campuses.
SafeWise ranked Springfield as the 4th most dangerous college town in the United States on August 15, 2022, following Monroe, Louisiana; Alexandria, Louisiana and Memphis, Tennessee.
This ranking may have local students wondering: what makes Springfield so dangerous? Missouri State University associate director of university safety Todd Revell and Springfield Police Department Sgt. Josh Ludwig said Springfield may not be as dangerous as the ranking suggests.
“What makes Springfield rank higher is property crimes,” Ludwig said. “If you’re considering someone getting their bicycle stolen just as dangerous as someone getting assaulted or killed, that’s not the same to me.”
Ludwig said the analysis that SafeWise presented may be looking at the amount of crimes and the general population instead of the types of crimes, where the crime took place in the city or the physical size of the city.
When compared to the top 10 safest college towns and campuses, Revell said some universities have numbers worse than Springfield.
“If you look at (Princeton University’s) crime stats, they’ve had more rapes, assaults and stolen cars than we have,” Revell said. “It’s all relative, how you look at it.”
Ludwig said each town is unique — in some cities, the university is the center of the city, whereas in other places like Springfield, the universities exist around the cities themselves.
MSU alum Josh Barry said he felt safe during his time on campus.
“The campus is well-lit, and there are often people within sight or earshot at any given location,” said Barry, who graduated in 2020 with a bachelor of science in K-12 art education. “I always felt like if I or someone else was in need, there would be someone nearby to help quickly.”
Barry said it helped having the security vehicles and call boxes positioned around campus although he didn’t need to use them.
As far as keeping himself safe, Barry said he tried not to be out by himself after dark, and if he had to be, he tried to stay in well-lit areas.
“If I’d be going out at night, I’d work to have someone come with me,” Barry said.
Ludwig and Revell said there are many factors that may lead to danger for college students.
“The person that is going to have the greatest impact on a student’s safety is that student,” Revell said. “Being prepared and having the right mindset is a big leap forward.”
Alcohol use is dangerous because of how it impairs judgment, according to Ludwig. In addition to alcohol, Ludwig said law enforcement sees a lot of situations where people trust strangers on the internet.
Ludwig said since students are unable to judge someone’s character from behind a screen, they often fall victim to scams or other predicaments. To combat this, Ludwig said to organize meetups and dates in public areas or go with friends.
Revell recommended students read “The Gift of Fear” by Gavin de Becker, as it may help students navigate potentially dangerous situations.
MSU offers many programs for students and faculty to learn how to keep themselves safe on and off campus. According to the university website, the goal is for students, faculty and staff to prevent emergencies and to be prepared if and when they occur.
Some of the programs offered by the university are Emergency Preparedness for Campus Emergencies; Run, Hide, Fight: Active Shooter Prevention and Preparedness; Sexual Assault Prevention and Defensive; and Stop The Bleed.
For more information about the programs or university safety, visit missouristate.edu/Safety.
Follow Makayla Malachowski on Twitter, @MMal2024.
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