Thanks to President Bush, college and university students across the country can now learn something they are not taught in a classroom - the crime rate on their campuses.
The Student Right To Know Act, signed by Bush on Nov. 8, requires U.S. colleges and universities that receive federal aid to publish crime statistics.John Stohlton, Brigham Young University vice president for government relations, said the university has been tracking the bill since it was introduced and "it doesn't change much for us."
According to Stohlton, BYU has been reporting its crime statistics to the FBI for years, and this new bill requires the university to report fewer of its statistics that it has in the past.
The university will have to report murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary and motor vehicle theft, as well as liquor law violations, drug abuse violations and weapons possessions. He said such statistics are published every year in the state of Utah.
"This is a way for parents and students to have more access to that kind of information," said Stohlton.
Paul Richards, spokesman for BYU Public Communications, said sometimes people get the wrong idea about crime statistics at BYU.
If a backpack is stolen at BYU it is reported as a crime, Richards said. "The same thing at other schools could be a common, everyday occurrence that is never reported."
Those who wrote the bill are realizing that they have to be careful in how they define what a crime is, Richards said. But, even considering the differences in reporting, BYU still fares better than the average university.
A survey of universities across the United States in the Dec. 3, 1990, edition of USA Today showed that BYU had 19 crimes per thousand students, which was less than the national average of 26 per thousand.
According to Stohlton, the impetus for the new legislation was when the parents of a young girl who was molested at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania discovered that the statistics for such crimes were very high there.
They felt they should have known about the crime rate, he said.