On reading the recent Freshers’ issue of Exeposé, I came across a news article called “How safe is Exeter?” Made up mainly of statistics, the article seemed professionally and thoroughly researched, however, failed to provide readers with a disclaimer unpacking the information given.
Although the article addressed an important question, especially at a time that new students were arriving at the university, it suggested that this question could be answered solely through the use of statistics – a somewhat ignorant and misleading conclusion.
Statistics specifically concerning crime, sexual assault and rape (those that were highlighted in the article) can arguably never be accurate as these crimes are known for being lesser reported.
What was most troubling was the article’s use of quotation from University and Guild spokespeople. By placing these quotations at the end of the article, without disclaimer, implies that the question “How safe is Exeter” has been answered by the response “Exeter [is] a safe city for our students to live and study.”
The comments also appear to have misread the statistics. While it is true that they confirm Exeter to be a safer city than some others in terms of lower reported crime rates, this by no means “confirm[s]” the use of the word “safe” to describe Exeter in light of the contents of the rest of the article. A recent incident reported on the Exeposé front cover, particularly highlights that caution should be taken.
To justify Exeter’s security through use of collective statistics is not only dangerous but severely misleading, and although it is not the job of the university newspaper to scaremonger, these kinds of articles may create a culture of complacency, which should not be welcomed, both by the paper, the University, and by students themselves.