Student perceptions of campus safety: How the university community may make a difference

Derek John Zuckerman, Fordham University


The purpose of this study was to examine the role of religion in creating a campus community to address violence on the college campus. Given the amount of cases and increasing magnitude of the ferocity of perpetrators of violence the study of safety was an important area of research. This study was able to give a voice to students who shared their perceptions of safety on their campus and in their residence halls. This quantitative study was conducted using a survey instrument developed by the researcher, entitled Perceptions of College Safety and Security Scale (PCSSS). The survey was sent to four different colleges in the Northeast, two with a Catholic heritage and two secular. Out of the four colleges, two are located in a suburban setting and two in an urban location. The perceptions of these students provided the data to answer the research questions guiding the study. The study examined whether and, to what degree, the role of American Catholic higher education provides an environment that creates a greater sense of community on campus. Using data from the PCSSS instrument, the researcher measured the respondents' demographic profiles, along with their perceptions of a feeling of safety in the campus community, a feeling of safety in the residence halls, their persistence at the college, and overall satisfaction. Students also gave their feelings on their sense of community, campus involvement, the role of residence hall policy, the college management of safety, the appearance of the campus environment, and their relationship to residential life staff. Data from 2,098 students (25% return rate) were analyzed in this study. The results indicated that, in total, a difference was found in the way that students from Catholic schools perceived their environment versus those at secular colleges. However, when examining the specific colleges involved in this study the differences were not always present. While there was a significant difference in the perceptions of residential students in the suburban setting, this same result was not found with the colleges in the urban setting. The data also showed that gender, class year, and racial origin were not significantly different. Correlation analysis found several relationships among the variables and regression analyses were used to predict the feeling of safety in the campus community, feeling of safety in the residence halls, and overall satisfaction. The study discussed the importance of community in creating a campus environment that would make students feel safer. Based on the findings of this study recommendations for future studies on the topic of safety were recommended. At the same time, the researcher made recommendations on how colleges can create a safer community.

Subject Area

Higher education

Recommended Citation

Zuckerman, Derek John, "Student perceptions of campus safety: How the university community may make a difference" (2010). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3420968.