Using figures that were self-reported by the country's universities, as required by the federal guidelines, ABC News analyzed reports of campus crime to determine which colleges had the highest reported violent crime rates.
The analysis divided the schools into four categories -- largest to smallest. Analyzing the latest complete set of numbers available from 2002 and 2003, these are the schools with the highest violent crime rates:
In the smallest category, schools with 2,100 students or fewer, Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio, reported the highest violent crime rate, with 29 robberies and aggravated assaults in 2002 alone. In 2003, a fight ended with a student's death.
Since then, the university says it has taken action to address an "unacceptably high number of criminal incident reports." The university says the crime rate has dropped dramatically.
University officials attribute the decrease to the police department's emphasis on community policing. Central state has adopted several specific prevention methods including more thorough traffic checks, encouraging students to report dangerous behavior and increasing police visibility.
Among mid-sized schools, those with fewer than 4,400 students, the College of the Holy Cross, in Worcester, Mass., and Kentucky State University in Frankfort, Ky., were in a virtual tie.
Most of the violent crimes at Holy Cross, a Catholic college, were forcible sexual assaults. This type of violent crime is the most common on campuses throughout the country. The college says its goal is to be among the safest campuses in the country. The school says it encourages students to report all crimes and as schools are required to report all crimes reported to them, and it says this accounts for the higher numbers.
Similarly, Kentucky State officials said they encourage students to report all incidents, even if the incidents are ultimately determined not to be crimes.
Among large schools, those with between 4,400 and 11,000 students, Texas Southern University in Houston topped the list, the only university on the list in a major city. Texas Southern officials told ABC News they aggressively report crimes and noted: "As an urban institution in the nation's fourth-largest city, we are faced with challenges that reflect our location."
In the extra-large category, including schools with more than 11,000 students, the University of Massachusetts, in the small New England town of Amherst, with a student body of more than 24,000 students reported the highest violent crime rate.
The university asked former FBI agent and U-Mass alumnus James Kallstrom to help work on security, and installed more than 200 cameras to act as deterrents and to document crimes that do occur across the U-Mass campus. Kallstrom says the school has improved the way it reports crime and the way it polices the campus, resulting in less violent crime reported to the government in 2004 from 58 incidents in 2003 to 28 in 2004.
"We're going to make it a safer place in '05 than it was in '04," Kallstrom said. "There have been a range of measures instituted. It includes better patrols, the use of police cadets, videos on campus, videos in the dorms."
The Department of Education told ABC News that the numbers for 2004 should be complete in December.
For more information about crime on campus, check out the Web site for Security on Campus, Inc.