USF’s Tampa campus is the least safe in Florida, study says

A ranking of 490 U.S. colleges found USF’s Tampa campus was the least safe in the state. Its St. Petersburg campus, however, was the third safest in the state.
University of South Florida's Marshall Student Center on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018, in Tampa, Fla. Times (2018)
University of South Florida's Marshall Student Center on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018, in Tampa, Fla. Times (2018)
Published Apr. 17, 2019
Updated Apr. 18, 2019

Click here to read this story in Spanish

The University of South Florida’s Tampa campus is the least safe college campus in Florida, according to a recent ranking on

The site, managed by the National Council for Home Safety and Security, ranked 490 colleges based on law enforcement data and FBI crime reports, according to their website. They analyzed crime rates, looking at violent and non-violent incidents, and “police adequacy.”

But USF Tampa’s police chief, Chris Daniel, said Wednesday that the study’s methodology raised questions about its accuracy, particularly in its use of the phrase “police adequacy.” He could not compare USF’s crime rates with other schools, but he noted the college’s focus on safety.

“Everything we do is geared toward making this a comfortable environment,” he said. “We are, like any place, surrounded by some challenging areas, but we have a very good working relationship with the local agencies...we all work together to keep these problems at bay.”

The most common crime Daniel sees on campus is property theft, especially bicycles. Since 2013, he said, USF has reduced bicycle theft by 69 percent. Crime numbers in general have been on a gradual decline, he added.

Ben Rothering, a University of South Florida Psychology major, walks on campus Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019. CHRIS URSO | Times

Although USF’s Tampa campus was ranked the least safe, USF’s St. Petersburg campus was deemed the third safest college in Florida, with a ranking of 118th on the nationwide list.

The Tampa campus ranked 382nd nationwide. Florida A&M University ranked 201st. The University of Central Florida ranked 258th. The University of Florida ranked 271st.

The ranking excluded colleges with less than 1,000 students and those that did not have substantial data available.

The safest college in America is Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tenn., according to the ranking. The least safe was the University of Michigan.

Daniel said the school will continue to examine its security policies.

“As a result of this, we’ll go back and reassess,” he said, “but we do that as a matter of practice anyway.”

In total, 14 Florida schools made it onto the list. See the complete state rankings below.

#20: Florida SouthWestern State College, Fort Myers

#50: Santa Fe College, Gainesville

#118: University of South Florida, St. Petersburg

#130: University of West Florida, Pensacola

#201: Florida A&M University, Tallahassee

#207: University of North Florida, Jacksonville

#258: University of Central Florida, Orlando

#265: Tallahassee Community College, Tallahassee

#271: University of Florida, Gainesville

#313: Florida Gulf Coast University, Fort Myers

#316: Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton

#338: Pensacola State College, Pensacola

#342: Florida International University, Miami

#382: University of South Florida, Tampa


  1. 1 hour ago• Florida State Seminoles
    Florida State's Kiah Gillespie in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Sunday, Dec. 22, 2019, in Uncasville, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
  2. Connecticut's Jalen Gaffney (0) and South Florida's David Collins (0) battle for a loose ball during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020, in Storrs, Conn. (AP Photo/Stephen Dunn)
  3. Florida Gators guard Kiara Smith (1) during the first half of an NCAA basketball game, Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019, in Gainesville, Fla. (AP Photo/Gary McCullough)
  4. The Lightning signed defenseman Zach Bogosian, whose contract was terminated by Buffalo earlier this week.
  5. Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Anthony Banda during the start of spring training in Port Charlotte, Florida on Thursday, February 13, 2020.
  6. Kacey Reynolds announces that LSU linebacker Devin White has been selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first round at the NFL football draft, Thursday, April 25, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. The Bucs announced Sunday that Reynolds had died at age 20 after a three-year battle with Hodgkin lymphoma.
  7. Tampa Bay Vipers fans, from left, Allie Goodman, of Naples, Bill Downing, of New Port Richey, and Don "Skully" Bradshaw, of Land O' Lakes, visit outside Raymond James Stadium on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020, while attending the Vipers' XFL home opener vs. the Houston Roughnecks in Tampa.
  8. Yoshi Tsutsugo of the Tampa Bay Rays gets his first career hit of spring training with the Tampa Bay Rays during a game against the New York Yankees at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, FL on February 23, 2020.
  9. Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., participates in a panel during a campaign event for Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. Friday, Jan. 31, 2020, in Clive, Iowa. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
  10. A cyclist and vehicles negotiate heavily flooded streets as rain falls in Miami Beach. Florida is among the states most at risk from rising seas associated with a warming climate, and the Tampa Bay area is considered one of the most vulnerable in Florida. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky) FLLS101
  11. Here, Mani Schafer, left, and Scott Stephen unload their moving truck after moving from New Mexico to the former St. Andrews Russian Orthodox Church, which they bought, in Childs Park in St. Petersburg in 2011.