Family magazine Reader’s Digest has issued rankings on campus safety. Using a number of criteria that weigh incidents of rape and murder more heavily than burglary or theft, Reader’s Digest helps consumers to understand the relative safety of over 250 campuses.
I worry that such rankings will be taken out of context. Reader’s Digest is completely transparent about its methodology. But I fear that parents and students will draw the wrong conclusions.
For example, is Virginia Tech less safe now, in the wake of the infamous shootings? Shall we blacklist Virginia Tech now? Or are these sorts of events (including murders at a couple of universities in the list, such as Butler and University of Florida) aberrations that should not forever mar the institution at which these crimes happened to take place?
These statistics can be useful in a way. But like every other set of rankings, I believe that these can be taken out of context.