WLU named safest university in W.Va.

WEST LIBERTY – With school safety on minds across the nation, West Liberty University students and staff may take comfort in the fact that WLU was named the No. 1 safest university in West Virginia for 2012 by StateUniversity.com.

The safety rankings are based on the number of occurrences of aggravated assault, robbery, burglary, theft/larceny, motor vehicle theft, forcible rape and murder. The poll takes into account the size of a campus as well, since larger campuses are expected to have a larger number of incidents. Violent crime also is given more weight in the rankings and has a greater effect on a school’s safety rating.

According to the ranking, WLU reported 0.73 incidents out of 1,000 students of aggravated assault and 3.56 incidents out of 1,000 students of larceny/theft in 2011. There were no reports of robbery, burglary, motor vehicle theft, forcible rape or murder at WLU for that year.

Lt. Tom Hustutler, head of campus police, attributed WLU’s No. 1 safety rating to an effort over the past few years to strengthen the relationship between campus police, WLU Housing and Residence Life, local police and West Virginia State Police.

“We have a great working relationship with Residence Life. They don’t hesitate to call us for anything. They have a well-trained staff,” Hostutler said. “Also, the State Police have been up here in the past, it’s really good to pick their minds and get better ideas on what to do and how to do it. They train up here, and we train with them.”

Hostutler also noted WLU employs certified full-time police officers and relies on part-time service of off-duty police officers and sheriff’s deputies.

“It’s important for parents to know that we work hard to ensure the safety of our students and our campus,” WLU President Robin C. Capehart said. “Our campus police work daily to maintain a high level of awareness and cooperation that results in a very safe environment for our employees and students.”

StateUniversity.com ranked WLU the No. 132 safest school out of 450 colleges and universities rated nationally. The website ranked Arkansas State University-Beebe in Beebe, Ark., as the No. 1 safest school in the country.