Annual Fire & Safety Report shows less crime reported

McKenna Scherer, editor in chief

Winona State University’s annual Security and Fire Safety Report was originally set to be released on or prior to Oct. 1, 2021, both on the school’s official website as well as sent out in an all-campus email by Director of Security, Chris Cichosz.
The report is typically around 100 pages in length, also detailing how to report a crime, what law enforcement agencies are available on each of Winona State’s campuses, crime prevention and educational opportunities, crime prevention and awareness programs, various policies on drugs, weapons, alcohol, etc., as well as substance abuse risks along with reported crime statistics on each campus.
The report covers crimes reported to the Winona Police Department, Winona County Sheriff’s Office, Rochester Police Department, Olmsted County Sheriff’s Office, Winona State’s campus security and other law enforcement agencies with jurisdiction over the university. The report covers reports from 2018-2020 on Winona State’s main Winona campus, Rochester-RCTC campus and
Rochester-Broadway campus.
The university publishes this annual security report each year and is required to do so under the Clery Act, federal legislation signed in 1990, requiring colleges and universities with federal financial aid programs to disclose campus crime statistics and information to the public.
The report, released on Oct. 1 and emailed to all students before 4 p.m. on Sept. 28, reported crimes from 2018-2020 with four sections: crimes reportedly committed on campus property, on public property, on non-campus property and in residence halls.
On Winona State’s main Winona campus, many reported crimes went down from 2019 to 2020, including a decrease in reported rapes and fondling occurrences (two reported rapes in residence halls in 2019 to 0 in 2020 and three reported fondling occurrences in 2019 to 0 in 2020), a decrease in liquor law arrests made (six in residence halls in 2019 and 0 in 2020), a decrease in arson (seven total reported arson incidences in 2019 and 0 in 2020) and a decrease in liquor law violations referred to disciplinary action from 2019 to 2020, which has been Winona State’s highest crime report statistic by hundreds of occurrences.
There was nearly a 10% increase in liquor law violations referred to disciplinary action from 2018 to 2019 with 234 reported incidents in 2018 to 257 in 2019. However, there was a roughly 50% decrease between 2019 and 2020 with only 154 reported incidents in 2020.
This may be due to significantly less students living in campus housing in 2020 due to COVID-19, as well as most on-campus residents living in single rooms without roommates.
The university closed its West Campus housing this school year due to lack of students.
Director of Housing, Paula Scheevel, said with undergraduate enrollment being on the decline, as it has been for years, there is enough room in Main Campus housing alone to house students who live on campus.
The same amount of drug law arrests was made in 2020 as in 2019 though, with four arrests made in residence halls both years.
There were zero incidents reported in 2020 relating to murder and manslaughter, statutory rape, robbery, aggravated assault, motor vehicle theft and illegal weapons possession on Winona campus.
On Winona State’s Rochester Broadway campus there have been zero reports of any of the 17 listed possible offenses on the crime report from 2018-2020, while the Winona State-Rochester RCTC campus has only had two reported crimes from 2018-2020: one incident of burglary and one report of fondling, both in 2019.
Winona State’s Winona campus has had hundreds more reported crimes from 2018-2020 compared to its two other campuses, totaling to 694 incidents.
However,Winona State’s two additional campuses are smaller than its main Winona campus.
The report also records reported hate crimes, of which only one incident was reported over the reported years on each campus, this incident occurring on the
Winona campus.
An adjustment to the Security and Fire Safety Report would be appropriate considering a fire that broke out in the Quad dormitory on Winona State’s main Winona campus on Tuesday night, Sept. 28. According to Cichosz, the dorm’s fire detectors and alarms went off “as a result of burnt food in one of the kitchens.”
“There was not an actual fire that took place,” Cichosz said.
A printed copy of the Security and Fire Safety Report can be picked up from Sheehan Hall at no cost or found online on Winona State’s official website.