An Exploratory Analysis of University Safety Through an Examination of Students' Self-Perceptions of Campus and Community Violence Levels and Student Learning Influences




Hollis, Michael J.

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The purpose of this study was to explore areas of research in regards to how students learn about violent crime on university campuses and what level of awareness they hold regarding their personal safety. A combination of databases was used to measure reported rates of violent crime on campus and in the community and these were compared with students' self-perceptions of safety and personal exposure to violence through an online survey distributed to 7,000 students at eight diverse universities throughout the United States. The survey determined that students were more aware of their personal safety than most researchers were giving them credit for. The students were largely dependent upon and trusting in their university to provide them with the information they needed to keep them safe. The university's internal and external communications messages (emails and news media coverage) were a large factor in determining how safe a student felt. Overall, there were few differences in perceptions of safety from demographics (except year of schooling). There was however strong consistencies in perceptions of universities per university, suggesting that the university itself is actually the greatest factor determining students' self-perceptions of safety and that the university's safety perception was largely determined by through media coverage. The university proved such a strong factor that it even outweighed a students' personal experience with violence as a key factor in how safe a student felt. I believe that this exploratory study now indicates that future research in the field should focus on universities' safety images and whether or not this is making students feel artificially safe or unsafe as a result.



Education, University, Campus Safety, Perceptions, Violence


Hollis, M. J. (2010). <i>An exploratory analysis of university safety through an examination of students' self-perceptions of campus and community violence levels and student learning influences</i> (Unpublished dissertation). Texas State University-San Marcos, San Marcos, Texas.


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