Overseas program report on crime

Oct. 13, 2010, 2:03 a.m.

Recently released Clery reports for Bing Overseas Studies Program (BOSP) centers detail crime at and near Stanford centers in 2009. No crime was reported for the Beijing, Berlin, Madrid, Oxford, Paris or Santiago centers, while the crimes reported for the Florence, Moscow and Kyoto centers occurred on public property near the sites.

The crimes detailed in the reports are categorized by whether they occur on campus, within the dorm, in a non-campus area owned or controlled by the University or on public property. Public property is defined as “streets, sidewalks, and parking facilities contiguous to, but not within, the campus,” and those statistics are provided by local agencies. Some of the statistics do not indicate whether the victims of the crimes were Stanford students or other people.

In 2009, 94 cases of aggravated assault occurred on public property near the Florence center, down from 104 in 2008. A total of 17,077 cases of burglary occurred there in 2009. It was not indicated whether any students were involved in these cases.

Two incidents of forcible fondling occurred on public property near the Kyoto center. Again, it was again not indicated if students were involved. Motor vehicle and bike thefts on public property in the area nearly doubled, to 49 vehicle and 323 bike thefts in 2009 from 26 motor vehicle and 255 bike thefts in 2008.

One case of aggravated assault and one of robbery occurred on public property near the Moscow center in 2009, up from none the previous year.

No information was available for the Cape Town center because the center debuted in spring 2010. No report was made for the Australia center because the program is run through a contract with the University of Queensland and does not have a facility maintained by Stanford.

Due to the differences in law enforcement record-keeping at these sites, these numbers are not representative of actual crime patterns in the regions surrounding any of the centers.

“The definition of ‘in the campus area’ is different because these foreign police departments don’t have to do this for their own governments or purposes,” said Irene Kennedy, executive director of BOSP. “In the United States it’s pretty well spelled out, but you try explaining that to a police officer in Kyoto and you get a very different take on it.”

Despite the relatively low incidence of crime at most of the overseas centers, student safety is a top concern for BOSP, said program director Robert Sinclair.

“Our BOSP staff on the home campus and the Directors and staff at the overseas centers take the safety and health of our students very seriously and they are probably our highest priorities,” Sinclair said in an e-mail to The Daily.

Last year 759 students went abroad through the BOSP. Before students’ departures, all are briefed on safety, staff say. Once students reach the overseas centers, staff at those locations educate them in safety more specific to the regions in which the centers are located, Kennedy said.

“They talk more particularly about street behavior, how to not draw attention to yourself,” Kennedy said. “They talk about specific parts of town that are more problematic than others, and how you can avoid them.”

Despite the safety measures, students are urged to follow, the risks of becoming victims of crime are little different than they are at home, Kennedy said.

“All the things that would happen in any large American city happens overseas,” she said. “In any large American city there are parts where you are vulnerable to being mugged or being hassled and I think the same is true for any of the large metropolitan areas where we have programs.”

Login or create an account