Paul F. Young

Major and Classification


Faculty Mentor

Stanley Huey, Ph.D.


Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences

McNair Project

“Black until Proven Innocent. Examining the Racial Disparities in Campus Crime Alert Messages”

Project Abstract

Focused on racial disparities in public announcements, this study examined the crime notification messages sent through a university’s public safety department. The reporting of crime-related information is mandated by the Clery Act, federal legislation requiring postsecondary institutions administering federal financial assistance to make available such information. To collect and analyze data, archival and document analysis research protocols were used. A total of sixty-four (64) crime alert messages were collected from one university. The messages were analyzed to identify the racial characteristics of suspects in each report, as well as to identify inconsistent negative reporting patterns disproportionately focusing on African Americans. The results of the investigation revealed selective  reporting; that is, a lack of communication of all crimes occurring on and around the campus, where only about three percent of the crimes were distributed to the campus community through the crime alert process. There was an overrepresentation of ethnic descriptions, particularly when involving  African American male perpetrators.