The Student Right-to-Know and Campus Security Act was passed by Congress in 1990 in response to concerns about crime and security at postsecondary education institutions. This Act requires institutions participating in student financial aid programs under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 to disclose information about campus safety policies and procedures and to provide statistics concerning whether certain crimes took place on campus. The 1996 PEQIS survey on Campus Crime and Security at Postsecondary Education Institutions collected information from institutions about campus crime statistics for 1992, 1993, and 1994; annual security reports compiled by institutions; and campus security procedures and programs. This survey was the first attempt to gather such information from a nationally representative sample of postsecondary institutions. The results of this survey provide the first national estimates about campus crime and security and allow comparisons to be made between various kinds of institutions. These survey results also provide the context for interpreting the campus crime and security information provided to the public by individual institutions.
The survey included public, private nonprofit, and private for-profit postsecondary education institutions at all levels (less-than-2-year, 2- year, and 4-year, including graduate-level) that participate in federal Title IV financial aid programs, since these are the institutions to which the Campus Security Act applies. This very diverse group of institutions includes colleges and universities, trade and technical schools, nursing and allied health schools, and other postsecondary schools such as cosmetology and business schools. It is important to keep in mind the diverse nature of these institutions when interpreting the survey results. Results tended to vary substantially by institutional type, whether the institution had campus housing, and the size of the institution. In general, public 4-year institutions, those with campus housing, and larger institutions were likely to show similar patterns of results, since these analysis variables are related to each other.