New York City may be a huge metropolis, but students at FIT are very safe, according to a recent ranking. FIT came in first in a 2021 survey of the Safest College Campuses in America by YourLocalSecurity.com. The site analyzed campus safety from the 395 U.S. undergraduate institutions that: (a) offer two- or four-year degrees, (b) have at least 5,000 students, and (c) submitted campus crime statistics to the FBI. Then they crunched data from the U.S. Department of Education’s Campus Safety and Security site and the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report, focusing on three categories of crimes that colleges must report: violent, property, and those that are classified as hate crimes or violence against women.
FIT’s top position was largely due to its very low number of crimes in that third category—just one per 10,000 people.
Mario Cabrera, FIT’s director of Public Safety, believes his team’s presence on campus is a major reason crime has remained low. Public safety officers patrol the streets, staff the Seventh Avenue gate that restricts vehicular access, and conduct “vertical patrols” of the academic buildings by walking every floor of every building. Key units—staff members who unlock doors for classes and events—add extra sets of eyes and ears.
“We’re checking all our corners 24 hours a day,” Cabrera says. “People from blocks away will come here to walk their dog because there is always a uniformed presence here.”
FIT takes these additional measures to ensure student safety:
- Everyone who enters any building must present ID, which gives Public Safety important information if an incident does occur.
- Every visitor and incident is logged in a sophisticated database that disseminates important information to all officers seamlessly. Public Safety also works with the New York Police Department when appropriate.
- Officers are given a full week of orientation and training when they are hired, which is significantly more than most other colleges. They learn procedures in place for evacuations and shelter in place, and they gain CPR certification if they don’t have it already.
- Visitation rules in the residence halls put student safety first. Any visitor must receive prior approval 24 hours in advance of a visit, and the host student must accompany guests when they leave.
- The Department of Student Life includes an educational component called Safe and Sound in the orientation given to incoming students. Topics include bystander intervention and affirmative consent. Through the Title IX office, incoming students also take a comprehensive online training called SMART: Sexual Misconduct Awareness and Response Training, which goes into detail about prevention and reporting of sexual misconduct.
- When high school and middle school students are on campus for FIT’s Precollege Programs, officers step up their vigilance so that no student leaves the buildings unsupervised.
Cabrera admires the rapport his staff has built with students—and as the father of a current FIT student, he feels good about the amount of care that goes into protecting them. “Our officers look out for the students like they would for their own kids.”