Charleston has been named the second safest college town in America by SafeWise.com for the second year in a row.
According to SafeWise, they base the rankings off of three aspects. The site starts with the FBI’s most recent crime statistics from 2015.
Then, they weighed those numbers in relation to population numbers and other important factors.
SafeWise also takes into account the different safety, security and community outreach programs that ensure safety in each college town.
Eastern President David Glassman said having three different police offices in town helps provide a safe environment for students and community members.
However, he also said the tragic shooting that took place on Eastern’s campus last semester was something the city and campus were not prepared for.
“Does that consider us to be an unsafe community? The answer is no. All the data points to that we are extremely safe. It also says a tragedy like that can happen anywhere,” he said.
Glassman said in some cities, fatalities happen multiple times.
“We wish it never would have happened, and we certainly do not want anything like that to happen again. But it does not say we are not a safe city or a safe college town,” he said.
He said since Charleston is the county seat, “(the community) has the university police department, the Charleston Police Department and the Coles County sheriff’s office all in a small, compact area.”
Kent Martin, chief of police at the University Police Department, said in an email that the university police are constantly patrolling campus and the surrounding areas.
Kelly Miller, interim director of admissions, said she agrees that Charleston is a safe community.
As a life-long member of the community, an Eastern alumna and an employee at the University for 26 years, Miller said she has never felt threatened on this campus.
Glassman said since Charleston was named the second safest college town in the U.S. for the second year in a row, this will help with enrollment numbers.
“It is a really important factor particularly for parents and families,” he said.
Glassman said when he is marketing Eastern to prospective students and their families, he often sees positive reactions when he mentions the safety ranking Charleston holds.
He said when he mentions the safety ranking families are surprised to hear it is not only the safest college town in Illinois, but also the second safest in America.
Many community members tell Miller they are so glad when students arrive back to town or “they can’t wait for the place to come back alive,” she said, “I also think the community looks out for our students too.”
Although Charleston is a safe community, Miller, Martin and Glassman agree students should take precautions to keep themselves safe.
Glassman said he thinks students should be aware that crime could take place in any city and on any campus.
Miller said, “my word to students is whatever safety precautions you take at home, also take here: lock your door at night when you go to bed, don’t leave your laptop sitting out in the lobby and walk away for hours, those sorts of things.”
If students choose to consume alcohol, alternate water with alcoholic drinks and never take a drink from a stranger, Martin said.
Glassman said one tip that always stays in his mind, is that students should not make themselves vulnerable.
“What I mean by that is we have students who leave their houses open, unlocked and that is a vulnerability right there,” Glassman said.
Kennedy Nolen can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]
HYPER LINK: https://www.safewise.com/blog/safest-college-towns-america/