Date of Graduation

7-2020

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Geography (MS)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Geosciences

Advisor

Thomas R. Paradise

Committee Member

Fiona M. Davidson

Second Committee Member

Linyin Cheng

Keywords

campus, Danger, Environmental Safety, Fayetteville, Arkansas, Risk, Risk Perception Studies, Student Perception, University of Arkansas

Abstract

The objective of this research lies within a community's effects upon, reactions to, and perceptions towards safety in their inhabited landscapes during various periods of the day. Through cognitive and spatial research, we can construct bridges between individuals' perceptions and reality. This study pertained to a student population sample and their views of public safety on the University of Arkansas campus in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Questions were asked as to why they felt unsafe, and where they felt the most unsafe (or safe). The student perceptions were compared to reported crimes on the University of Arkansas campus to ascertain gaps in perception and behavior.

Factors were identified that contributed to the various respondents’ perceptions of safety, and both supported prior work and unexpected findings. Previous studies indicated that females generally reported having more significant fears than their male counterparts, at night, or at any other time (Reid and Konrad, 2004); some researchers have attributed this to over-socialization that women are targets while men are not (Jiang et al, 2017). This research revealed these differences.

The findings indicated that there were significant gaps within segments of the student population in their perception of safety on the university campus. Overall, it was found that the respondents had a significant understanding of the dangers and risks that are present on the campus. Also, it was found that widespread media-reported incidents (traffic-related student death) dramatically skewed perceived zones of danger on campus. The use of mass media, social media, and campus outreach may have a greater impact on students' perception of risk than first believed and may represent the most reliable path to decreasing perception gaps.

Keywords: student perception, risk, danger, University of Arkansas campus, Fayetteville

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