Alex Buonfiglio ’15
How safe do you feel on campus? The stigmas typically associated with smaller, suburban area schools may suggest you generally do feel very safe. But why stop there? What can the crime statistics, as well as the Merrimack campus police tell us about the level of safety here on campus?
Since the 1990 passing of the Clery Act, all colleges and universities have been required to disclose information about crime on or near their respective campuses. Merrimack has continually posted its crime statistics on the school website at the end of each year and is accessible for not just students and faculty, but also for the general public. After reviewing the statistics, it may be safe to say (no pun intended) that Merrimack College has indeed earned the “safe” school seal approval as it pertains to being able to foster a safe community here on campus.
To quickly highlight some of what the statistics tell us. Many of the most egregious crimes, which burden so many of the larger, city area schools have not been a problem at Merrimack over the past three years. The most prevalent offense on Merrimack’s campus has been liquor law referrals for the past three years. An obvious non-violent crime, Liquor law arrests and referrals are crimes colleges big and small all see plenty of. It should be noted that the number of liquor law referrals rose at Merrimack to a total of 500 in 2013. That number was up from 446 and 312 seen in the previous two years. What can be attributed to this rise? When asked about the rise, Police Officer Zach Taylor echoed what surely many of you thought could be attributed to this rise in drinking related crimes; campus growth. “Drinking and Drug related offences plague all schools,” said Taylor. “As the Merrimack community continues to grow, crimes of such nature will only go up making that figure somewhat misleading”, he added.
With the size of the freshman classes increasing each year, and the proposed plans to construct more dorm buildings seemingly becoming more of a reality, it can defiantly be assumed Merrimack will have a much different look to it in the coming years. “As the college keeps growing, we are going to have to adjust to that”, said Taylor. Growth has required the police to develop some new strategies to keep students safe. Increased patrols in royal crest, more call boxes spread throughout campus, and a road block on the weekends by the Sak Center are just a few of the new techniques Merrimack police have instilled to keep both residents and students safe. “At the end of the day it’s our job to keep everyone safe”, said Taylor. Now Merrimack may not be generally known for its nightlife, but much of that has to do with simply its location. Residents in surrounding neighborhoods may be putting more pressure on campus officials and police to keep the school quiet than most of us realize. “With all the new dorm controversy, residents (Andover) have contacted police about keeping kids in control”, said Taylor.
When asked his general thoughts on Merrimack being safe, Taylor responded “I would feel it’s a safe campus.” He added how he thinks the school is in a good location, and that there is good police- student relations here. He discussed how police are allowed to escort kids if at any point they need help, or feel unsafe walking in certain areas. “We don’t like to get people in trouble, just ensure that we keep a safe and healthy community”, he concluded.