By Ben Fractenberg
MORNINGSIDE HEIGHTS — Manhattan’s most elite university did not score so well on a recent school safety study.
Columbia University came in at number 19 in the Daily Beast's survey of the 50 most dangerous campuses in the country. The Ivy League school in Morningside Heights reported 2 murders, 23 forcible rapes and 440 burglaries over the past three years, the Daily Beast found.
"The safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff is our top priority," said Daniel Held, a spokesman for Columbia. "The University works closely with the NYPD and the FDNY, along with other neighborhood partners, to safeguard our campus, and it is important to note that Columbia’s campuses and the surrounding areas have an extremely low crime rate for an urban university."
Several Manhattan colleges fared much better.
The Fashion Institute of Technology in Chelsea ranked number eight on Daily Beast's list of the 50 safest colleges in the nation, with no reported murders and 8 rapes. Pace University, near City Hall and the NYPD's headquarters, came in at the 14th safest.
"Why were we number fourteen? It’s a community effort; it’s an everyday effort," said Richard Abbinanti, who heads the school’s security and safety efforts."Our students, faculty and staff look out for each other. If they see something that’s not right they contact us immediately and we investigate it."
Pace had no reported murders or rapes over the past three years, and only three assaults and five burglaries.
Abbinanti also attributed his school’s low crime levels to the fact that the campus is closed to the public, and an ID card is required to access every building. He said Columbia, in contrast, has an open campus where anyone can walk around the school grounds.
The Daily Beast said they based their studies on the average numbers of murders, rapes, robberies, assaults, burglaries, car thefts and arson. The more serious threats to public safety, like murder, are weighed higher than the less serious ones, like car theft. The numbers for each school are divided by total enrollment to get an average for each school.
The data was collected from campus security and crime data provided by the US Department of Education, FBI and Secret Service.
While the study looks at number of crime-related incidents on campus, it is important to note it does not necessarily take into the account the general safety of the community in which each school resides.
The 26th precinct for example, where Columbia University is located, has seen a 31 percent reduction in total crime from 2001 to 2009, according to NYPD statistics.
When asked if he was concerned about an increase in crime in the city Abbinanti replied "absolutely."
"We [the security team] meet all the time to discuss what’s going on," he said. "Crime has been picking up a little bit in the city and we take that into account."