Annual safety report disregards potential impacts of COVID-19, student movements


Daily file photo by Katie Pach

Weber Arch. Northwestern released its Annual Security and Fire Safety Report Wednesday.

Maia Pandey, Development and Recruitment Editor

Northwestern’s Evanston Campus saw decreased reports of burglary, liquor law violations and domestic and dating violence in 2020, according to the University’s Annual Security and Fire Safety Report released Wednesday.

The report did not mention how the decrease in NU’s Evanston-based student population due to the pandemic might have affected crime statistics, aside from noting fire drill numbers fell because most residence halls were near-empty for at least one quarter last year.

Burglary reports decreased to six from 17 in 2019 and 27 in 2018, and liquor law violations fell to 99, compared to 229 and 216 in the previous two years. Most students left the Evanston campus in March 2020 and half were not welcomed back on campus until January 2021.

Reports of stalking fell to eight from 16 in 2019, and the University reported zero cases of domestic and dating violence, respectively, compared to two and four of each in 2019. Recent surveys from the Department of Justice have found nearly half of nonfatal domestic violence incidents go unreported — and many vulnerable people have been in further danger while isolating at home during the pandemic. Advocacy organizations say it is more difficult for an individual to report domestic and dating violence when they are living with their abuser.

The Office of Risk, Internal Audit and Compliance compiled the report in consultation with departments including University Police. The lower number of reports occurred simultaneously with the rise of student advocacy for UP’s abolition. In a petition released last summer, Black undergraduate and graduate students called on the University to recognize policing as a specifically anti-Black institution by severing ties with the Evanston Police Department and Chicago Police Department and reinvesting in Black students’ wellbeing, along with defunding and abolishing UP.

Not all reports decreased: incidents of weapon law arrests on the Chicago Campus and robbery on the Evanston Campus, which had both been zero the previous year, increased to 13 and three, respectively. 

Universities participating in federal student financial assistance programs must publish an Annual Security and Fire Safety Report under the Clery Act. Along with 2018, 2019 and 2020 numbers of federally defined crimes on campus, the report outlines general information on University safety and security protocols.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @maiapandey

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