But statistics for metro-east colleges show that hate crimes accounted for less than half of one percent of the offenses that happened on their campuses in the last five years.
A federal law known as the Clery Act requires the institutions to publish the number of times certain crimes were reported to them each year to give students a picture of campus safety.
Data from the schools’ annual security reports show that 90 percent of the crimes reported since 2013 were related to drugs, alcohol, burglary and dating violence, according to a Belleville News-Democrat analysis.
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Most of the schools didn’t report any hate crimes from 2013 to 2017, including Lindenwood University-Belleville; Southwestern Illinois College’s campuses in Belleville, Granite City and Red Bud; Lewis and Clark Community College in Godfrey; and the SIU dental school in Alton.
At SIUE, three hate crimes were reported — all in 2017.
There have been a total of six hate crimes reported on local college campuses in the last five years: three at SIUE and three at McKendree University in Lebanon.
SIUE Police Chief Kevin Schmoll said students there reported finding a Confederate flag painted on a campus landmark, a note with a racial slur left on an apartment door and a message written on a classroom chalkboard referring to black people as non-citizens last year.
Police planned to file charges against whoever left the slur on a black student’s door, but a year later, Schmoll said they don’t have any suspects.
In early October, SIUE Police announced that they were investigating a new report of racial and homophobic slurs that had been written on students’ cars. Schmoll said those slurs aren’t being investigated as hate crimes, though, because the owners of the cars didn’t feel like the messages were directed at them.
“In the last maybe three years, I think across the country we’ve been seeing more and more of these,” Schmoll said.
McKendree reported one hate crime last year and two in 2014.
Ranodore Foggs, McKendree’s director of public safety, declined to provide more information about the incidents at the private university.
“While we are required by the Clery Act to provide the numbers, due to the security and confidentiality of the members of our campus, we do not comment on the circumstances of individual cases,” Foggs wrote in a statement to the BND.
Farther south, at SIUE’s sister university in Carbondale, there were eight hate crimes in the five-year period, which is still less than half a percent of the total offenses there.
At the state’s largest college, the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, there have been two hate crimes since 2013.
Stalking was Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s most frequent crime after drug and liquor law violations.
SIUC reported 133 cases of stalking in five years, which tops U of I. The Urbana campus reported 124 stalking cases in the same time frame. Stalking was its most-reported offense after drug and alcohol offenses.
U of I also reported one murder on campus in 2016, when a former student was accused of suffocating her newborn baby.
None of the metro-east’s schools reported murders on their properties during the last five years.
At Lindenwood’s Belleville campus, rape was the crime reported most often after drug and alcohol offenses; it reported 13 rapes since 2013, compared to 81 reports of rape at U of I.
The University of Illinois’ student population was 33 times larger than Lindenwood’s in fall 2017.
There were 47,826 students enrolled at U of I’s flagship campus in Urbana vs. 1,435 at the Belleville campus, according to the latest available enrollment data from Lindenwood, a private institution.
The Edwardsville university’s most-reported crime not related to drugs or alcohol was dating violence, which can include sexual or physical abuse or the threat of abuse, according to the Clery Act’s definition. There were 47 cases of dating violence at SIUE.
After liquor law violations, McKendree’s most-reported crime was burglary; there have been 84 burglaries reported on the Lebanon campus in the last five years.
College officials say they use the annual security reports to track trends in campus crime.
If they see an uptick, they can do more to educate students and staff with training or safety tips, according to Schmoll.
Foggs said McKendree will also share the security reports with local police to help them come up with ways to reduce crime.
A full security report for each college is available on the school’s website. Data for a particular school, year or crime can also be found online at ope.ed.gov/campussafety.