Campus crime statistics unavailable from government during shutdown, but we have ’em

We often encourage student journalists to look up campus crime statistics reported by their school using the Department of Education’s “Data Analysis Cutting Tool.” On that website, students can look up statistics reported annually by their school as required by the Jeanne Clery Act, as well as those reported by other schools.

Students (and members of the public) trying to do that today won’t be able to. Because of the partial government shutdown implemented at midnight, many federal departments’ websites are down, including the Department of Education’s statistics websites. This was the message greeting visitors Tuesday morning:

The statistics on the campus safety data website always have to be taken with a grain of salt — many experts have questioned their reliability, and statistics of any kind only tell so much. But reservations aside, the website is still the most complete picture of campus safety available. It’s unfortunate that the public won’t be able to access that data during the shutdown.

The timing is unfortunate because today is also the deadline for schools to publish and distribute their annual safety and fire reports covering the 2010 to 2012 calendar years. When those reports are published, many student journalists in particular head to the Department of Education’s website to look at historical data as a means of comparison.

But don’t worry, we have a copy of the statistics that was previously downloaded from the data website’s aggregated data section. We’ve uploaded the documents just as they were provided by the Department of Education:

Each year’s statistics come in a .zip file, which should contain a spreadsheet for each reporting category of crimes. Hopefully, the Department’s website will be back up and running soon, but until then, we hope this data helps.

Two other shutdown-related items of note, as they apply to the Clery Act:

  • The shutdown should not affect schools’ ability to publish their annual reports — students should still get a notice by the end of today letting them know where to go to view the report (many schools send an email or post the reports online as PDFs). Some schools have already distributed these reports, and if your school does not do so, make sure to ask them why.
  • In addition to distributing the annual report, schools are also required to submit annual campus safety statistics to the Department of Education. That deadline isn’t until Oct. 16, but the website where schools are instructed to submit the statistics is down because of the shutdown. A woman who answered the Department’s Campus Safety Help Desk said the site would remain down as long as there is a shutdown, but that staff would be available to answer questions from schools. It’s not clear whether the Oct. 16 deadline will be extended if the shutdown continues, or how the shutdown will delay the release of those numbers to the public on the data website.