Triad, NC -- Every college or university that accepts federal student aid money must report crime statistics. It's easy to find these numbers. The Office of Post Secondary Education's website asks you to type in the name of the school. Then, all you need to do is click search.
You can find crimes ranging from robbery to forcible sex offenses to arson. However, the website warns readers that the Department of Education has not independently verified the numbers and can't guarantee they are accurate.
WFMY News 2 looked up the forcible sex offense stats for colleges in the Triad and created a chart so you can compare the schools to each other. Keep in mind forcible sex offenses are not necessarily rape. By definition, a forcible sex offense is, "Any sexual act directed against another person, forcibly and/or against that person's will; or not forcibly or against the person's will where the victim is incapable of giving consent." Statewide, in 2011, there were 111 forcible sex offenses reported on college campuses.
Chart: On Campus Forcible Sex Offenses
Wake Forest University had the highest number of forcible sex offenses in the group of colleges WFMY News 2 researched. In response, WFU issued this statement to WFMY:
"The category of forcible sexual offenses in the Clery Report carries a broad definition, including instances that may have never been reported to police.
We do not think our incidence of sexual offense is higher than other comparable institutions. As a university we take accounting for all crimes very seriously and choose to err on the side of potentially over-reporting.
Reports of such offenses may be made to campus law enforcement or to other University officials. For the years 2009 through 2011, half of the reports were made to non-law enforcement.
For many years, Wake Forest staff and students have carried out a substantial amount of programming aimed at educating our student population on issues associated with sexual assault. For instance, February was Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Awareness Month with events and activities held for students. Such education begins immediately upon the arrival of first-year students for orientation."
Campus safety is something parents and students should investigate and talk about when they visit a college.
Several students looking at Greensboro College on Thursday said safety is a factor they will use to choose a college.
"When I'm walking back from someplace to my dorm at night, I definitely want to feel safe. I watch all those crime shows on TV. With them on TV so much, it feels like it's really real and it happens all the time. I definitely want to feel safe," prospective student Rebecca Jones said.
Another prospective student, Rachael Bailey, added, "It's a very big factor for me. I would not consider going to school in a large city unless I knew they had a good, low crime rate and a lot of security around."
Both students told WFMY News 2 they felt safe at Greensboro College.
If you have any questions or concerns about sexual assault, you can always call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673. The hotline is free, private, and available 24 hours a day.