UW Oshkosh is the safest college campus in Wisconsin and ranks 38th nationally. The National Council for Home Safety and Security released the findings Feb. 13, looking at universities with 10,000 students or more.
The ranking was created using the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting and the Campus Safety Survey put out by the U.S. Department of Education. Safety scores were calculated by analyzing crimes reported by universities, and violent and property crime rates for the city.
According to the NSC, the highest-ranked university campuses boast low total campus and local area crime. UWO, a campus population size of 14,051 reported to have three violent crimes on campus during 2017, and 42 property crimes.
Interim Provost and Vice Chancellor John Koker said he was not surprised by this news.
“I have always felt our campus is a safe place,” Koker said. “Last fall I participated in the campus safety walk at which I learned about all we do to make sure our campus is safe. Making students aware of how to report incidents is part of that. We can respond to the specific incident, but we also learn from each report.”
University Police Department Chief of Police Kurt Leibold said the relationship the UPD has with the community and campus is a key component to keeping campus safe for students, faculty and staff.
“We have a great relationship with the Oshkosh Police Department,” Leibold said. “We also have a great relationship with the fire department. We train with both of those areas as well, but we also internally have a great relationship with the Dean of Students, Residence Life, with our counseling department, athletic events. That’s the key, when you get to know everybody and you trust everybody, you work together and you can really reach your common goals much more efficiently.”
UWO student, Andria Marsh said despite the frequent Titan Alerts, she feels safe on campus.
“I’ve been in Oshkosh for a while, and I get Titan Alerts frequently,” Marsh said. “I feel like on campus and in the dorms is safe, but I feel like the surrounding area is where the problem is. I don’t think the student housing and apartment areas are being checked enough.”
Leibold said having a high presence from the UPD on campus helps to make students feel more safe.
“Visibility and presence are very important to what we are trying to do,” Leibold said. “We want our police officers out in the community being seen, whether they are driving their cars, riding bicycles or walking. We also want them to be at every event on campus, whether we have to police it or not. We want them to show up and support everything that happens on this campus.”
Leibold said the UPD undergoes various amounts of training in preparation for any circumstance that may occur.
“We do a lot of training with the police department, and not just the regular police training which we are very good at doing with firearms, and the vehicle operation training,” Leibold said. “We also do the bystander intervention training, we have fair and impartial police training, we have the escalation training, we do the safe training, all of our officers are trained in that, and we do a lot of active shooter training,” Leibold said.
Leibold said the UPD also provides active shooter and pandemic training to the community.
“In addition to that, we also train our community,” Liebold said. “We’ve done 25 different trainings of different divisions at this university for active shooter. We’ve done nine tabletops in the last year regarding disaster or pandemic. We had pandemic training in November, and here we had to put it to real life with the norovirus.”
Koker said he believes practicing safety is everyone’s responsibility on and off campus.
“We all need to own campus safety,” Koker said. “The Campus Police Office is our ally in leading the way.”