VCU Commonwealth Poll finds most Virginians believe state campuses are safe
Poll also finds ‘perception of safety’ influences college selection decision
University Public Affairs
Virginians believe the state’s college and university campuses are safe, according to a new Commonwealth Poll released today by Virginia Commonwealth University’s Center for Public Policy.
A large majority of Virginians (80 percent) said that Virginia college and university campuses are very or somewhat safe, while only 16 percent said campuses were not very or not at all safe. This finding is similar to last year when 78 percent of respondents indicated campuses are very or somewhat safe.
A substantial percentage of respondents, 41 percent, said that the issue of campus safety would affect the decision of whether to attend a particular college or university a great deal. Twenty-seven percent said it would affect the decision quite a lot, and 29 percent said not too much or not at all. Parents of students enrolled in primary or secondary school – those who are most likely to be influencing a college choice decision – were more likely (52 percent) to say safety would affect the decision a great deal.
“The perception of campus safety is an important one for colleges and universities,” said Niraj Verma, Ph.D., director, L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs. "A majority of parents of school-aged children (52 percent), those who will be presented with the college choice in the future, said that campus safety will affect their decision a great deal.”
Respondents also were asked whether they felt universities could take steps to prevent violent crimes from happening on campuses. The majority, 56 percent, felt that no matter what universities do they won’t be able to prevent violent crimes. Thirty-eight percent felt that if universities took the right steps they could prevent violent crime. Parents of students in primary or secondary school felt differently than parents who have or have had a student in a Virginia college or university. Parents with school-aged children were more likely to think universities could take steps to prevent violent crime on campus with 44 percent. Parents of Virginia college students were more likely to think that universities are unable to prevent violent crime with 62 percent.
“Parents of school-aged students have different perceptions of how much universities are able to do to prevent violent crime on campuses. They are more likely to think that universities could take steps to prevent violent crime than parents of current or former Virginia college students,” said Farrah Stone Graham, Ph.D., assistant professor in the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs and director of the survey.
The Commonwealth Poll is a statewide survey conducted by Virginia Commonwealth University by landline and cell telephone from Dec. 27, 2012 to Jan. 3, 2013 with a random sample of 827 adults in Virginia. The margin of error for the poll is plus or minus 4.3 percentage points.
For a PDF of the 10-page report including complete question wording and detailed tables of results see http://www.CommonwealthPoll.vcu.edu/poll_data.htm.
The Center for Public Policy is housed within the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs and is part of VCU’s College of Humanities and Sciences.
- About VCU and the VCU Medical Center
Virginia Commonwealth University is a major, urban public research university with national and international rankings in sponsored research. Located in downtown Richmond, VCU enrolls more than 31,000 students in 223 degree and certificate programs in the arts, sciences and humanities. Sixty-eight of the programs are unique in Virginia, many of them crossing the disciplines of VCU’s 13 schools and one college. MCV Hospitals and the health sciences schools of Virginia Commonwealth University comprise the VCU Medical Center, one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers. For more, see www.vcu.edu.