Several college students on their way to class Friday morning said they generally feel safe on the historic campus of The College of William and Mary.
"It's nice here," a junior studying psychology said Friday. "I think most of (William and Mary students) feel that way."
This fall, William and Mary released its annual crime statistics for its Williamsburg and other campuses that show the students are mostly right. Crimes like motor vehicle theft and burglaries are down, as are liquor law violations.
Drug law violations were up and the number of sexual assault numbers remained constant, according to the 2015 Campus Security and Fire Safety report.
University officials compile the crime statistics to comply with the federal Clery Act, which requires colleges and universities who receive federal funds to document crimes much like police departments report crime stats to the FBI in yearly uniform crime reports.
William and Mary's report includes numbers from its Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Newport News and Washington D.C. locations.
Main campus in Williamsburg had three motor vehicle thefts in 2013 and only one the following year. Burglaries in 2013 were at 22, but decreased to 12 in 2014, the report states.
"As chief, I am always concerned about property or personal injury crime," William and Mary Police Chief Deborah "Deb" Cheesebro said. " It's important that community members feel safe and be safe while on campus."
Liquor law arrests were at 44 in 2014, down from 65 arrests in 2013. Liquor law violations referred to the Dean of Students Office for Code of Conduct review also dropped to 234 in 2014, from 454 referrals in 2013, according to the annual crime report.
The university had a slight increase in drug law arrests, from 14 in 2013 to 21 in 2014. Drug law violations referred for Code of Conduct reviews were down from 28 to 20 for the same time period.
William and Mary police refer some crimes committed on campus to the Dean of Students Office instead of subjecting the student to police action. However, they also charge students when actions warrant that, university communications director of news and media Suzanne Seurattan said in an e-mail Saturday.
The university had two illegal weapon possessions in 2013 and 2014. No arsons were reported in 2013, and only one occurred in 2014, the crime report states.
The number of sexual assaults have remained constant, although the crime is historically underreported, said Cheesebro, who's headed the university's department since August 2014.
To encourage students to report rape and sexual assaults, William and Mary took recommendations from a campus task force formed about the issue to provide more information to students on where to go and who to call when it occurs.
"Our goal is to reassure students that we do have options for reporting, we can provide immediate support services to victims and others and we will take appropriate action," said Cheesebro Thursday.
Crime stats for 2015 are not part of the report, but Cheesebro said the university has seen a modest uptick in reporting of sexual assault cases this fall. She believes it's a direct result of the work by Title IX coordinator Kiersten Boyce and the William and Mary Task Force on Preventing Sexual Assault and Harassment.
The increase doesn't mean more assaults are occurring on campus, but that more victims are coming forward, she said.
For sexual assaults that occur off-campus, the university department connects victims with officers from Williamsburg or James City County, school officials said.
Cheesebro said the school's campuses are safe, and the police chief encouraged students to continue to protect themselves by being aware of their surroundings and locking up valuables like laptops and their vehicles.
"We ask the community to continue to help their Tribe family by keeping us informed of any behavioral or welfare concerns," Cheesebro said. "It takes the entire community working with us to keep William and Mary as safe."
Canty can be reached at (757) 345-2341.