UCLA’s Response To Article On Business Insider Website

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The following was published on the University of California, Los Angeles website on Nov. 21, 2012:

“UCLA is a very safe campus located in a famously low-crime area of Los Angeles. You wouldn’t know this from a story on the website Business Insider that runs under the misleading headline, The 25 Most Dangerous Colleges In America.

The story puts UCLA at the top of the list. That erroneous claim came as a shock at UCLA, especially to the officials who report crime statistics to the FBI every year, as do most campuses. They knew immediately that the story was way off. It got us wondering how Business Insider could get it so wrong.

It turns out that what Business Insider reports as “crimes on college campuses” is not that at all. The statistics used by the website use crime reports taken by University of California police based at UCLA. Problem is, UCLA police take crime reports from a wide area: the campus itself, the neighboring residential and business districts of Westwood, West Los Angeles and beyond, and from UCLA medical centers and clinics around Los Angeles County, which has a population of more than nine million people. The statistics cited by Business Insider paint a picture of a much larger urban area than just the campus.

Westwood, where UCLA is located, consistently ranks as one of the communities most free of crime in all of Los Angeles County. The Los Angeles Times publishes analyses of serious crimes and, for the latest six-month period, notes that Westwood has one of the region’s lowest rates of violent crime – 186th out of 209 communities mapped, many of them small rural enclaves. That’s the reality in UCLA’s neighborhood.

We don’t know how misleading Business Insider’s rankings may be for other campuses. The list seems heavily weighted toward public institutions. But comparing an aggregation of crime reports from UCLA’s many facilities around the Los Angeles area to those from a single, contained campus is trying to mix apples with oranges.

It’s easy to see how Business Insider could make this mistaken leap, by just reading the FBI summary data. A phone call or email would have helped get the story right. We would encourage the site’s editors to try that next time.

Meanwhile, for accurate data on crimes reported on the UCLA campus and at facilities off campus, the UCLA police publish the federally mandated Clery Report each year. Safety is a top priority at UCLA facilities, and everyone in the campus community — students, faculty, staff, visitors — is encouraged to report all crimes.”

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