By Shannon Vicic
Crimes against people decreased by 4 percent on the UI campus and in the surrounding community during the 1996-97 academic year, according to statistics released by the UI Police Department.
From Sept. 1, 1996, to May 18, 1997, there were 150 crimes against people in the statistical reporting area, down from 156 crimes against people in that area during the 1995-96 academic year.
The statistical reporting area includes both the UI campus and neighboring parts of Champaign and Urbana. It is bordered by the Illinois Central railroad tracks on the west (near Neil Street), Race Street on the east, University Avenue on the north and Windsor Road on the south.
During the 1996-97 academic year, there were 22 more robberies and four more sexual assaults in the statistical reporting area, but there were 33 fewer aggravated assaults and batteries in that area.
"The drop in aggravated assaults and batteries suggests that students may be benefiting from educational programs on interpersonal relationships and violence that were offered by several units on campus last year," said Capt. Krystal Fitzpatrick, public information officer for the UI Police Department.
However, the rise in robberies is an area for concern, she said. In a continuing pattern, most victims of robberies were men walking alone at night in poorly lit, isolated areas. Often, the victim was intoxicated or had been drinking.
Men are several times more likely than women to be victims of robbery, but they can be a difficult audience to reach with safety messages since they often aren't used to thinking of themselves as potential crime victims, Fitzpatrick said.
Students and others who frequent the statistical reporting area also should be aware that the greatest concentration of crimes against people mostly in the form of assaults and robberies occurred in the northwest quadrant of the statistical reporting area, primarily off university property.
In response to this pattern, the UI police department and the Champaign police began jointly patrolling the northwest corner of the reporting area last year.
On university-owned property, there were 27 crimes against people committed, three more than during the previous academic year. The number of aggravated assaults and batteries on university-owned property decreased from 12 to 10, and the number of robberies remained the same (six). The number of other sex offenses, such as peeping tom and public indecency incidents, increased from two to seven.
Other patterns revealed by the statistics:
The increase in reported sexual assaults may be the result of increased willingness of victims to report incidents, Fitzpatrick said. A sexual-assault awareness program for incoming freshmen may have helped raise awareness among students about campus resources available to victims of sexual assault.
The university's efforts to raise safety awareness on campus have included
a campuswide safety campaign and safety programs for students attending