UT gets an "A" for campus safety

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Knoxville (WVLT) - The University of Tennessee ranks as one of the safest college campuses across the country, but step off campus, and students say it's a different story.

Reader's Digest Magazine just released it's list of safest colleges campuses.

Volunteer TV's Mike McCarthy has more on where UT falls on the list.

Reader's Digest surveyed 135 colleges and universities. Based on those answers, the magazine awarded grades of A, B or C. UT got an A and ranked 20th overall thanks partially to it's dorm security measures and campus emergency phone system. Police say the effort's underway to make those areas off campus just as safe with every step.

"I feel pretty safe for the most part," student Gina Diferdinando said.

And UT Freshman Gina Diferdinando tries to keep keep it that way.

"I don't walk alone late at night, especially by myself," Diferdinando said.

The University of Tennessee's now ranks as one of the safest campuses for her to walk across nationwide.

"Our priority is number one education and number two, we want it to be a safe community," UTPD Captain Keith Lambert said.

Reader's Digest Magazine surveyed 135 college campuses. It gave UT and 44 others an "A" when it came to campus safety.

"We're happy. We're very, very happy," Lambert said.

UT also ranked 20th overall, but when it comes going just off campus.

"I don't want to have to go over there. I hear alot of bad things," Diferdinando said.

Over there in the Fort Sanders neighborhood just across the street from campus.

"You hear about all the stabbings, or the shooting, and things like that," Diferdinando said.

"That's definitely a serious concern for us and we take a shared responsibility for the Fort Sanders area," Lambert said.

Just last month, a student was shot in the Fort. Matt Rippentoe now calls that area home.

"It's not the safest conditions, we've all heard the horror stories, but I personally haven't experienced anything," Rippentoe said.

Knoxville Police say less people are. Overall, incidents dropped in the Fort from 2006 to 2007, but robberies did go up. So did burglaries. UT and Knoxville Police have bumped up patrols there.

"The Fort Sanders area is over 50 blocks and it's the most densely populated area in the city of Knoxville," Lambert said.

The population double that on campus. So keeping an eye on students everywhere....

"It's not as easy as some people want it to appear to be," Lambert said.

Diferdinando says that's what will keep her just on campus sidewalks.

UT Police says it's special problems unit is working in the Fort.

UT's campus isn't immune to crime. Most crimes did drop from 2006 to 2007, but thefts on campus rose.

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