St. Louis ranked again as most dangerous city

| Senior News Editor

Though Washington University undergraduates in general feel safe near campus, St. Louis is once again the nation’s most dangerous city, a national research group has found.

A CQ Press report from Nov. 22 named the city America’s most dangerous for the second time in five years.

The report offers the latest grim assessment of safety in the areas around the University. It comes months after The Daily Beast ranked the University as the nation’s 13th most dangerous campus. And St. Louis was ranked America’s most dangerous city in 2006 by Morgan-Quitno, which was acquired by CQ Press in 2007. Both rankings have come under fire, with some critics saying their methodologies are biased.

Many students say that they feel safe around the Danforth Campus, which is located partially in the city but mostly in neighboring St. Louis County. But some said the CQ report may discourage prospective students from applying to a university in a city they perceive as dangerous.

“I feel like parents are going to be more concerned than students are,” freshman Brendan Daly said. “I know a prospective student whose parents are discouraging her from applying because of the recent ranking of St. Louis.”

The report is based on statistics on murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary and motor vehicle theft reported to the FBI for all U.S. cities with more than 75,000 residents. St. Louis was ranked second most dangerous in 2009 and 2007 and fourth most dangerous in 2008.

University spokesman Steve Givens called the rankings flawed, saying in a statement Tuesday that the administration puts no stock in them.

“As our students know, the University has worked very hard over the past several years to make our campus and the neighborhoods surrounding it as safe as possible,” Givens added. “We will continue those efforts with the utmost diligence.”

The Daily Beast took heat for its campus safety rankings. In September, the University called the rankings misleading because they included crimes around the Medical Campus. The Daily Beast has defended its report, saying that its methodology was consistent across schools.

Kara Bowlin, a spokeswoman for St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, responded to the CQ report by telling CBS News that city crime has fallen each year since 2007 and by 7 percent so far in 2010.

The city criticized past years’ rankings for drawing on crime figures only in the city instead of in the whole region. Morgan-Quitno and CQ have defended its rankings throughout the years.

Some students said that they see St. Louis as dangerous but feel safe on campus and that the new rankings don’t make them worry more. Some became more cautious near campus after a spate of muggings this fall, however.

“Although St. Louis itself may be dangerous, I do not feel particularly unsafe on campus and in the surrounding area,” junior Corey Donahue said. “As long as I am careful of when and where I’m walking, I don’t feel in danger.”

Freshman Megan Conn said that any city comes with the risk of crime. She added that the campus is in a safer part of the area. “I don’t think students at Wash. U. are in significantly more danger than those at similar universities in Chicago, New York or Boston.”

With additional reporting by Puneet Kollipara.

  • Urban Safety Solutions

    Brilliant well written and informative article.