To help students with their research, the office of off-campus student and commuter engagement suggests resources for students to view crime in off-campus areas before signing a lease. Credit: Isabella Giannetto | Lantern File Photo

As students begin their search for off-campus housing, there are several factors to consider – and neighborhood safety may elude them.

The office of off-campus student and commuter engagement suggests students measure crime in off-campus areas before signing a lease, said Kyle Huffman, graduate associate for off-campus student and commuter engagement.

Huffman said the office provides many resources to help students decide on a location, including a menu marking of bus stops and campus buildings. It also divides the off-campus area into eight zones, demonstrating their proximity to the campus.

“We love directing students to this interactive Google map,” Huffman said. “It’s kind of like a living resource, in that we edit and update it often and all the changes are instant and live. “

Julia Bliss, a third year in food science and technology, said she gave a lot of thought to the security of an area before signing her lease.

“My roommates ended up preferring an apartment on Fourth Street, and I was really hungry for it,” Bliss said. “All the guys who lived there were telling us how each of them had their car broken into.”

After this experience, Bliss said she started using community crime maps to see how often crimes were reported in areas before going to view the apartments.

“I was looking at some of the crime cards,” Bliss said. “They all said East Campus, East Campus, it’s everywhere East Campus. So, I decided I wasn’t going to live there, and it’s the best thing I’ve ever done.

Huffman said criminal cards can help students make an informed decision about where they want to live.

“It kind of shows on a map the different crimes that are happening in the area,” Huffman said. “It’s not a fun thing to think about, but it’s the reality, and it allows us to make an informed decision based on data.”

Bliss said after extensive research she believes she made the right decision by prioritizing low crime rates before signing a lease.

“I lived there last year, I’m living there this year and just signed a lease next year,” Bliss said. “I never felt unsafe in my apartment, ever.”

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