A website's declaration that UCLA is the most crime-prone campus in the nation last week had many of us in the L.A. news media shaking our heads with doubt. WTF?
It's a question L.A. Weekly posed to the publication in question, Business Insider. It responded with crickets. Until last night. A publicist emailed us a new list that the site compiled, this time using a different data set.
Lo and behold, UCLA is no longer No. 1. Far from it. But Business Insider is still defiant:
The site used federally mandated Campus Safety and Security Data, which put UCLA at 24 instead of at No. 1.
The school still comes up with a high number of "property crimes" and aggravated assaults under what is known as "Clery" data.
Business Insider is defiant, stating:
It seems all of Los Angeles is up in arms over the Most Dangerous Colleges list we published last week.
... Based on this alternate methodology, UCLA and UC Riverside are once again among the 25 most dangerous colleges in America.
In fact, the new list contains many of the same schools as the original.
We take this to suggest that both lists are pretty good at identifying dangerous schools.
The difference between being No. 1 and being 24 is huge, however. We called the original ranking "bunk" and Business Insider seems to be admitting it ... without admitting it.
And the numbers still seem fishy, if you ask us.
The publication says only 2007-through-2009 data were available, but we saw Campus Safety and Security Data for 2011 that looked perfectly good and comparable. Maybe some schools didn't have up-to-date stats, but UCLA did:
Under the new analysis, Yale, the most blue-blood of schools in New Haven, Conn., comes in at No. 2.
USC, home to a three-victim shooting Halloween night and an off-campus double homicide this year, failed to make the list.
We looked at the so-called Clery data and also discovered that USC is divided into nine campuses. We wonder if Business Insider aggregated the data for all of them, and whether other schools are divided similarly.
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It's hard to believe that UCLA is a more dangerous place than USC, Columbia University, Temple University or University of Pennsylvania (the latter actually ranks 25th in the second remix), all of which are located in tougher climes.
Of course, most of the above are essentially closed off from their communities.
UCLA is nestled beneath one of the wealthiest enclaves on the planet, Bel-Air, and its Westwood community is one of the lowest-crime areas in Los Angeles.