The move is aimed at giving a more honest picture of crime at Penn. For the first time, members of the University community and prospective students will get the full picture of how much crime occurs on and around Penn's campus. In a surprise move that puts the University in the vanguard of higher education, Penn announced yesterday that it would go above and beyond the requirements of state and federal law by including in annual crime reports all incidents reported to University Police -- not just those occurring under the laws' "narrow" definition of "on campus." A U.S. Department of Education investigation into the University's crime-reporting procedures recently found that Penn generally reported its crime in accordance with the law, though the government cited Penn for six minor violations. As an example of the major change about to hit Penn's crime reporting, the number of robberies at the University in 1997 will jump from just 19 to 206. "We applaud the University of Pennsylvania for its willingness to be completely honest about crime on its campus," Secretary of Education Richard Riley said in a statement. "We hope other schools will follow Penn's lead." University President Judith Rodin described the move as "logical." "I thought it was just bad P.R. to make us look like there wasn't any crime around campus," Rodin said. "With the new system, no one can accuse us of covering anything up." And a non-profit group advocating tighter rules for campus crime reporting hailed Penn's announcement as "signaling a new era in the openness and honesty of American universities." "If you're going to Penn, you're going to know just how dangerous West Philly really is," said Daniel Carter, vice president of Security on Campus Inc., the group that asked the DOE to audit Penn's statistics. In explaining Penn's decision to alter its reporting methods, Managing Director of Public Safety Tom Seamon pointed to the bloody March 1 shooting outside the Palestra that left one dead and three wounded. Since some of the victims were shot on the street -- which is not considered University property under the federal definition of "campus" -- some people might criticize Penn for not including all the shootings in its official reports, even though Penn would be complying with the law, Seamon said. The new system eliminates any potential confusion, he noted. College senior John La Bombard was one of those shot and injured. A stray bullet hit him as he worked on a Design of the Environment project in the Blauhaus on 33rd Street. "I'm just glad it didn't hit my penis," La Bombard said. Many statistics would increase astronomically under the new system. For instance, the number of thefts would jump from 1,425 "on campus" in 1997 to a total of 34,984 reported to University Police. Rapes would rise from zero to 12, and murders would go from zero to six. But Penn Admissions Dean Lee Stetson was "outraged" by the move. He predicted the new crime statistics would cause "at least a 50 percent drop in applications" for the class of 2003. "This sucks for Penn," Stetson said. "I don't understand how this helps us at all. Rodin is nuts. Seamon is nuts. The whole freakin' system is nuts." Hip-hop artist Busta Rhymes, who is playing the annual Penn Relays concert at Zellerbach Auditorium on April 25, said the changes will make Penn's campus seem more "dangerous." "This is serious," Rhymes said. "We could make you delirious. You should have a healthy fear of us, 'cause too much of us is dangerous. "We so dangerous, we so dangerous," he continued. "My Flipmode Squad is dangerous. So dangerous, we so dangerous. "My whole entire unit is dangerous."Comments powered by Disqus
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