10 Safest College Campuses In America

When you head off to your first day of college, will you be safe? Will you feel safe? These questions are ever more present for students and their parents as more and more people take the college route for pursuing success.

Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to make sure you choose a safe college, and to make sure you stay safe while you’re there.

This Ultimate Guide to College Campus Safety gives you all of the information you need to start answering those important questions about your college future. We break it down into three simple sections on college safety:

  1. What Makes a College Campus Safe?
  2. How You Can Stay Safe at College
  3. 10 Safest College Campuses in America

After reading through this guide, you’ll be ready to play it safe at college.


What Makes a College Campus Safe?

Two key components make up a safe college campus — 1) low crime and 2) proactive school safety programs. By investigating these two aspects of your potential college destination, you can gauge just how safe your new environment will be. Look at the following characteristics:

  • Compliance with the Jeanne Clery Act: If a college or university receives federal funding under Title IV (and almost all post-secondary institutions do), the school is required by law to produce an Annual Security Report (ASR) that details its campus security services and crime statistics. (Foreign and distance-learning only schools are exempt.) However, not all schools are in compliance. This doesn’t necessarily mean a non-complying school is unsafe, but schools who have produced current 2015 reports get safety points for making the effort. Bonus points go to schools who have already published their 2016 report (the deadline is October 1).
  • Low crime stats: You can check any school’s crime stats new and old reported under the Clery Act by using the free online Campus Safety and Security Data Analysis Cutting Tool, provided by the Office of Postsecondary Education of the U.S. Department of Education.
  • Mental health offices: Americans have learned all too well that just one student’s state of mental health can affect an entire student population. As such, colleges are safer when they offer mental health services, especially the proactive sort.
  • Security officers on campus: Maintaining a security office is almost a universal standard for college campuses. However, not all security officers are well-trained, and not all campuses have officers patrolling 24/7. The safest colleges have trained officers walking around campus day and night, always.
  • Escort service: This is another common standard, but that doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed at every college. When determining a college’s safety, find out if security officers provide walking escort services for students and faculty who don’t want to walk around campus alone, especially at night.
  • Shuttles for students: Traveling across campus at night is even safer when you don’t have to hoof it on foot. Get to your destination faster — and accompanied — by choosing a school with a free shuttle service.
  • Blue light emergency phone stations: Many college campuses have installed “blue light” stations with emergency phones. Seeing that beacon of blue light nearby as you walk to your car at night can make any student feel safer.
  • Surveillance systems/technology: Cameras and other visible security technologies help deter crime. When the risk of being caught is ever-present, potential bad guys may think twice about behaving badly.
  • Dry campus (no alcohol allowed): Statistics show that colleges that don’t allow alcohol on campus have lower crime rates than colleges that do. Sure, being able to grab a beer at the on-campus bar may sound like a dream, but when you consider the risks involved with making alcohol so easily accessible to stressed-out, party-driven youths, you might opt for a dry campus for its real safety advantages.
  • Lighting maintenance: Having lights installed throughout campus parking lots isn’t quite enough to deter crime. Those lights have to be well-maintained. When a light goes out, how long does it take the school to fix it? A couple of days, or a few months? To test this out, be observant during your campus visit. Look up and check to see if the lights seem to be working properly or if it looks like the maintenance team hasn’t been out in a while.
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Campus Emergency Pole by PROJavcon117*

How You Can Stay Safe at College

No matter how safe a college may be for the campus community in general, there will always be unscrupulous members of society looking to take advantage of others. So even if you go to the absolute safest college in America, you’ll still do well to know a few basic ways to keep yourself out of harm’s way at school. Remember these college safety tips:

  • Get familiar with your school’s safety services. You can’t use them if you don’t know what they are, so find out. Add the phone number of your campus safety office to your phone. Sign up for emergency text message alerts, if available.
  • Lock up. Whether it’s your dorm room, your apartment, or your car, always lock the doors! College administrations know all too well that students often forget this simple safety measure, and many schools make an effort to remind students that locking up is important. Here’s one more reminder on top of that. Lock your doors.
  • Look into your car before getting in. Believe it or not, walking up to your car and finding a stranger inside is not just something that happens in the movies. Imagine reaching out to open your driver’s door, then suddenly realizing a stranger is sitting in the driver’s seat. Look before you reach for that door handle. Is your back seat empty? Is the driver’s seat clear? Yes? Okay, now open the door.
  • Carry pepper spray or mace. And make sure you can quickly access it in an emergency. Pepper spray buried in your bag won’t help you if the time comes to use it. A great solution is to keep it on your keychain.
  • Learn self-defense. You don’t have to be an expert in martial arts to defend yourself in a violent situation. Becoming familiar with a few basic self-defense techniques can make all the difference. If your college offers a free class, sign up. If not, look into nearby offerings or watch a few YouTube videos.
  • Don’t walk in dark areas alone. Whether you ask for a security escort to accompany you back to the dark parking lot after night class, or you simply call a friend to stay on the phone with you until you’re safely to your car, make sure you’re not completely alone in such a vulnerable situation. Even if your friend doesn’t answer your call, having your phone to your ear may deter a potential creeper from doing something creepy. But that doesn’t mean you should be texting, Instagramming, or entertaining any other distractions that require staring at your phone. You’ll be a tougher target if your eyes are up surveying the scene.
  • Be conscious of your intoxication level. Too often, bad things happen to good and drunk people, so if you’re partying it up, try to keep some wits about you. It’s the little things that matter. Is there a step in front of you? Take it slow and don’t fall! Need to get home? Be the guy who’s so cool that he doesn’t need to give in to pressure to drive; he’s got an Uber on the way. Or appoint one friend in the group to help corral everyone at the end of the night and make sure they get home safe. A bit of drunken responsibility goes a long way when you’re trying to stay safe into hangover day.

10 Safest College Campuses in America

There are thousands of college campuses across the United States, and most of them are safe according to crime statistics. Spreadsheets of college crime data are blanketed with 0’s for incidents reported, only sprinkled with positive numbers, mostly small. For these reasons, narrowing down thousands of college campuses to a true top 10 ranking could be misleading, so that’s not what we’re doing here.

As previously mentioned, crime stats never tell the whole story. For one, only the incidents that are reported can be counted. Two, even incidents that are reported aren’t necessarily included in the data. They should be, of course, but reporting policies are easier to implement than they are to practice with utmost dedication.

As such, when looking at the safety of a college campus, you have to dig deeper than the data by assessing on-campus safety services, campus culture, the surrounding areas, and how much the school really cares about keeping students safe. Even then, it’s difficult to say whether or not one school is safer than another, or if it just appears that way.

That’s why we’ve written this detailed guide that goes beyond a simple, straightforward campus safety ranking. When it comes to on-campus safety, it’s never so simple.

Here, we present 10 of the safest college campuses in America, which stand out for various reasons. These campuses help model what students (and their parents) should look for when determining whether or not a college campus is safe to visit or even attend.

Rank University/College Location
1 University of Connecticut – Avery Point Croton/CT
2 Penn State Lehigh Valley Center Valley/PA
3 Judson University Elgin/IL
4 Menlo College Atherton/CA
5 Corban University Salem/OR
6 Brigham Young University – Idaho Rexburg/ID
7 Bellevue University Bellevue/NE
8 St. Joseph’s College – New York Brooklyn/NY
9 Fashion Institute of Technology New York/NY
10 New York Institute of Technology – Old Westbury New York/NY

1. University of Connecticut – Avery Point

University of Connecticut
University of Connecticut - Avery Point by Pi.1415926535

Beating the University of Connecticut [icon class=’fa-external-link’] at campus safety would be a tough challenge for most colleges in America. Every campus in UConn’s multi-campus college system has so many safety programs it’s hard to count them all. The University of Connecticut campus at Avery Point is no different, and the school even stands out among its cousins.

The small, well-lit, waterfront campus of UConn at Avery Point is surrounded on three sides by the waters of the Long Island Sound in the town of Groton, CT. Its internationally accredited police department sits right in the middle of campus, and police officers patrol the grounds 24/7. This full-fledged law enforcement agency has the same authority as a standard municipal police department, and brings with it a huge array of benefits. To name one, the Safety Techniques & Awareness Resource Team (S.T.A.R.T.), which is run by officers with specialized training, aims to raise awareness and provide education about preventing sexual and domestic/dating violence.

In addition to the police department’s various safety initiatives, UConn at Avery Point keeps students safe by providing Husky Rides, a comprehensive transportation service for UConn students. A complete network of shuttle buses, vans, and standard vehicles are available to everyone in the UConn campus community. Operating hours and service updates are posted online at the college website and Facebook page.

Basic Campus Safety Features:

  • Division of Public Safety
  • Office of Emergency Management
  • Blue Light Emergency Phone Stations
  • Emergency Alert System (text, voicemail, online)
  • Security Escort Service

Standout Safety Services:

  • UConn Campus Police Department
  • Annual Citizen’s Police Academy
  • Free Self-Defense Classes
  • Online Investigation Report Request Form
  • Online Anonymous Tip Form
  • Online Crime Log
  • Safety Techniques & Awareness Resource Team (S.T.A.R.T.)
  • UConn Fire Department (with live audio feed on Broadcastify)
  • Workplace Violence Reduction Program
  • Emergency Hazard Guide (downloadable)
  • Husky Rides (transportation services)
  • Husky Watch Program (campus neighborhood watch)

2. Penn State Lehigh Valley


Situated among nature with a low-key atmosphere, Penn State at Lehigh Valley [icon class=’fa-external-link’] gives students and staff alike a safe place to call school. The icing on this cake of natural tranquility is the effort Penn State’s administration puts into creating a safe culture on campus.

For a great example, the school just wrapped up its unique Stand for State action week. From September 12 through 15, Penn students were encouraged to participate in various on-campus events and activities all aimed at fostering a safer community. The initiative particularly focused on encouraging students to stand up for each other.

Later this fall, the school is following up Stand for State week by offering an in-depth 90-minute Stand for State training program. Students will be given free training on how to spot and intervene in incidents of stalking, sexual assault, and domestic/dating violence. Finally, all first-year students will be shown an overview presentation of the Stand for State initiative and its key points on standing up for fellow campus community members.

Basic Campus Safety Features:

  • Current 2015 Annual Security & Fire Safety Report
  • Safety & Security Office
  • Close Relationship with Local Police Department
  • Emergency Hotline Phone Number
  • Emergency Alert System (texts, emails, phone calls)
  • Security Escort Service
  • Vehicle Assistance

Standout Safety Services:

  • Awareness Programs on Drugs/Alcohol, Sexual Assault, Crime Prevention
  • “Stand for State” Action Week
  • AED Unit and Medical Bag / First Aid
  • Online Crime Alerts & Crime Log

3. Judson University


You’ll be hard-pressed to find a college with as much dedication to keeping students safe as Judson University in Elgin, Illinois [icon class=’fa-external-link’]. The school offers an incredible array of programs aimed at many different areas of safety, including theft prevention, behavior assessment, self-defense, assault prevention and more.

To detail one example, Judson maintains an online “Silent Witness” form, which makes it easy for anyone to report their concerns anonymously. The form is wide open for any type of report, whether it’s about a threat by a classmate or an instructor’s behavior that makes a student uncomfortable.

Judson also makes a concerted effort to help students prevent theft. No assumptions are made about students knowing how to protect their bikes, for example. Everyone who brings a bicycle to school is encouraged to register their bikes with the administration. An entire program is also dedicated to reminding students who live on campus to lock their doors. Simple encouraging initiatives such as these create a culture of crime prevention and safety for the entire Judson campus community.

Basic Campus Safety Features:

  • Department of Campus Safety
  • Blue Light Emergency Phone Stations
  • Emergency Alert System (text messages)
  • Security Escort Service
  • Vehicle Assistance
  • Wellness Center (counseling services)

Standout Safety Services:

  • Online “Silent Witness” Form
  • Bomb Threat Checklist Distribution
  • Behavior Assessment Team
  • Free Self-Defense Training
  • Residence Life & Student Leader Safety Presentations
  • “You’ve Been Tagged” Program (reminds students to lock their doors)
  • “Gotcha” Program (encourages student to register their bicycles)
  • Bicycle Registration & Safety Rodeo
  • Mandatory Online Sexual Harassment/Assault Training (all students and employees)

4. Menlo College


Campus security works around the clock to make Menlo College [icon class=’fa-external-link’] one of the safest colleges in America, hands-down. The surrounding area’s low crime rates help too. Located in Atherton, CA of Silicon Valley, this small private college offers a plethora of good reasons to feel safe on campus.

Menlo College is one of the most progressive schools out there when it comes to keeping students safe. Among its excellent lineup of safety programs and services is the college’s own LiveSafe mobile safety app. Students and staff can download the app to their Android or Apple smartphones for a quick and easy way to communicate with campus security anytime they need. An exceptionally great feature of the app is the ability to send reports to security with GPS location tags, photos, video, and audio. Finally, security can easily send mass emergency alerts and safety tips to everyone who has downloaded the app. (And that’s in addition to standard emergency notification alerts sent by text message, email, and voice message.)

Other safety measures at Menlo include a Campus Watch Program, similar to neighborhood watch programs, aimed at encouraging the entire campus community to take part in keeping one another safe. The school also hosts annual prevention programs on various safety issues, such as sexual assault and alcohol awareness.

Basic Campus Safety Features:

  • Office of Campus Security
  • Security Escort Service
  • Close Relationship with Local Police Department
  • Emergency Alert System (texts, emails, phone calls)
  • Emergency Phone Stations
  • Emergency Response (Planning, Preparedness, Response and Recovery)

Standout Safety Services:

  • Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) in every building
  • Emergency Pocket Guide (downloadable)
  • Mobile Safety App, LiveSafe
  • Online “Tipster” Form
  • Campus Watch Program
  • Annual Prevention Programs: Self-defense, Sexual assault, Rape aggression defense, Alcohol awareness

5. Corban University

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Corban University by M.O. Stevens

Corban University [icon class=’fa-external-link’] is a Christian college in Salem, Oregon with ever-present security officers patrolling the campus. The local police academy is also just around the corner in case backup is needed. Of course, needing backup doesn’t happen around Corban. The school’s proactive safety efforts, dry campus policy, and religious culture all help keep crime low.

The school is notable for its Crisis Intervention Policy. Neither psychological nor physical problems are to be ignored at Corban. Referrals can be made anytime to the school’s Health Services or Counseling Services, which have procedures in place to prevent one student’s crisis from becoming a collective crisis for fellow students and staff. Part of the procedure is to ensure students are familiar with or introduced to coping strategies and to arrange long-term care for students with deep issues.

Another standout safety program at Corban University is the Student Campus Safety Officer Program. While the school maintains a standard Office of Campus Safety with professional safety officers, Corban also supplements that effort by allowing students to become safety officers as well. This helps Corban build a culture of safety through staff and students alike.

Basic Campus Safety Features:

  • Office of Campus Safety
  • Automatic Emergency Defibrillators
  • Emergency Alert System (texts, emails, phone calls, online Blackboard CONNECT messages, electronic on-campus message boards)
  • First Aid/CPR Courses
  • Security Escort Service
  • Vehicle Assistance

Standout Safety Services:

  • Student Campus Safety Officer Program
  • Crisis Intervention Policy

6. Brigham Young University – Idaho


As a small religious school in Rexburg, Idaho with a strict Honor Code, Brigham Young University at Idaho [icon class=’fa-external-link’] naturally cultivates a safe campus. Drugs and alcohol are big no-no’s with serious consequences for any student associated with their use, which means there is quite a standard for peer-policing. The surrounding community tends to hold the same values, making the entire school neighborhood exceptionally scarce of even minor crimes.

Beyond its safe and conservative culture, Brigham Young particularly stands out for its comprehensive emergency notification system. In addition to common emergency alerts sent via text, voice message, and email, the school alerts students and staff through campus-wide broadcasts.

In the event of a campus emergency, classroom projectors can be used to project mass emergency alerts, and blue light emergency phones provide loud message broadcasting outside of the classroom. Mass alerts such as these ensure that everyone on campus is immediately alerted to an emergency as soon as a message is sent out.

Basic Campus Safety Features:

  • Current 2015 Annual Security & Fire Safety Report
  • Safety & Security Office
  • Blue Light Emergency Phone Stations
  • Counseling Center
  • Online Crime Log
  • Security Escort Service
  • Vehicle Assistance

Standout Safety Services:

  • Emergency Alert System (texts, emails, phone calls, classroom projectors, on-campus phone broadcasts)
  • Student Safety Council

7. Bellevue University

bellevue_university

Situated just outside Omaha, Nebraska, Bellevue University [icon class=’fa-external-link’] offers a small-town feel with bigger city amenities close by for those who desire them. The area is prone to attracting families rather than hoodlums looking to cause a ruckus. As such, Bellevue students get to enjoy going to school where crime isn’t much of a concern.

The school stands out for its Center for Health & Safety, which provides several proactive services to help keep the campus community safe, with a focus on preventing drug and alcohol abuse. The center works closely with the Bellevue police department, for example, whose officers come to campus to present trainings, such as the past alcohol prevention training and a Q&A session on sexual misconduct. Both of these presentations were recorded and are now available as online videos for anyone to review.

Bellevue also offers an online incident report form, making it easy for anyone to inform campus security of a crime or simple concern.

Basic Campus Safety Features:

  • Current 2016 Annual Security & Fire Safety Report
  • Center for Health and Safety
  • Campus Safety Department
  • Blue Light Emergency Phone Stations

Standout Safety Services:

  • Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention Program
  • Prevention Events & Awareness Training
  • Online Incident Report Form
  • Online Well-Being Resources & Directory

8. St. Joseph’s College – New York

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Photo by Beyond My Ken

Both the Brooklyn and Long Island campuses of St. Joseph’s College at New York [icon class=’fa-external-link’] host more than 5,000 undergraduate students (in addition to a healthy population of post-grads), and the administration is determined to keep all of them safe. Campus security is always there when a student needs them, and the school’s Catholic orientation does well to keep students on the straight and narrow.

Saint Joseph’s College is notable for its health and safety training programs. Students are offered the opportunity to take EMT certification courses and to volunteer with the College Medical Emergency Service, which serves the entire school. The benefit is twofold. One, participating students learn how to save lives and assist in emergencies. And two, every person on campus is always only minutes or even seconds away from emergency medical help.

In addition to the EMT program, the school offers American Red Cross classes, broadening its selection of safety training offerings for students. Course topics include a wide range of safety trainings, such as Lifeguard Training, CPR, and Wilderness Emergencies.

Basic Campus Safety Features:

  • Current 2015 Annual Security & Fire Safety Report
  • Office of Security
  • Office of Counseling & Career Services
  • Emergency Medical Services
  • Blue Light Emergency Phone Stations
  • Security Escort Service
  • Vehicle Assistance

Standout Safety Services:

  • EMT Training & Certification Program (student-run)
  • American Red Cross Classes

9. Fashion Institute of Technology

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Fashion Institute of Technology by Beyond My Ken

Known for having exceptionally strict security policies, the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) [icon class=’fa-external-link’]in New York City makes it hard to commit a crime on campus. Every building is patrolled by a security officer, and visitors are required to sign in with the school’s Department of Public Safety.

FIT is especially focused on preventing campus sexual assault and domestic/dating violence. Its standout Campus Anti-Violence Education Group (CAEG) runs several initiatives aimed at increasing awareness and providing education to students and staff on campus. Programs include Sexual Assault Awareness Week every April with free self-defense workshops. Additionally, the Clothesline Project invites survivors of violence to decorate a special T-shirt that represents their experience, and to hang that T-shirt on a public clothesline for the campus community to see.

Furthermore, coming up in late October is the CAEG’s “Pledge Purple” event. Members of the FIT community are invited to sign a pledge committing themselves to help prevent sexual and domestic violence. It’s all part of FIT’s dedication to maintaining an exceptionally safe college campus.

Basic Campus Safety Features:

  • Department of Public Safety
  • Close Relationship with Local Police Department
  • Emergency Alert System (texts, emails)
  • Security Escort Service

Standout Safety Services:

  • Campus Anti-Violence Education Group (CAEG)
  • Sexual Assault Awareness Week
  • Domestic Violence Awareness Week
  • Pledge Purple Event
  • Kaufman Hall Shuttle

10. New York Institute of Technology – Old Westbury


Sitting among the woodland hills of Old Westbury about an hour away from New York City, the New York Institute of Technology at Old Westbury [icon class=’fa-external-link’]has become known for providing a safe environment. The campus is essentially isolated from the urban part of the Big Apple, and nearby towns such as New Rochelle, Port Washington, and Glen Cove all have low crime rates.

One of the school’s most outstanding safety aspects is its Campus Alone Program, run by the Office of Campus Security. Through this program, walking escorts are provided to anyone who is part of the campus community. The service is available anytime, including non-business hours during evenings, weekends, and holidays.

The outstanding part is that not only do security escorts accompany students to their destinations upon request, if you are escorted to your vehicle for example, security officers are required by policy to confirm that you have safely departed from campus. Before a student leaves, they are expected to call campus security to confirm their departure. If security does not receive a confirmation call, they will go to check on you again at your destination.

Basic Campus Safety Features:

  • Current 2015 Annual Security & Fire Safety Report
  • Office of Campus Security
  • Blue Light Emergency Phone Stations
  • Emergency Alert System (texts, emails, phone calls)
  • Emergency Hotline Phone Number

Standout Safety Services:

  • Campus Alone Program (beefed up walking escort service)
  • Year-Round Crime Prevention Seminars
  • Detailed Online Manual of Emergency Procedures

Sources:

publicsafety.uconn.edu/
lehighvalley.psu.edu/safety-security
www.judsonu.edu/campussafety/
www.menlo.edu/about/safety-security/
inside.corban.edu/node/16880
www.byui.edu/university-operations/security-and-safety
www.bellevue.edu/student-support/center-for-health-and-safety/
www.sjcny.edu/security
www.fitnyc.edu/safety/
www.nyit.edu/old_westbury/safety_security