Bethel College President Perry White recently spoke to The Kansan. He said Bethel students often tell him they feel safe on campus.

While White said it's good students feel that way, the college urges students to not become complacent.

Bethel takes special care to educate students on how to remain safe, White explained, as well as how to recognize the signs of a safety issue.

BackgroundChecks.org recently announced having ranked the 50 safest colleges in Kansas for 2016, with Bethel ranked 17th on that list.

"We certainly appreciate the recognition for the safe community we provide for students," White said. "Also, I think we are really blessed to be housed in a community that is a safe community in and of itself."

In the scope of the study, BackgroundChecks.org defines a college as "any accredited public or private not-for-profit institution that offers four-year degree programs."

BackgroundChecks.org combined data from recent FBI Crime Reports, Department of Education Statistics, student surveys natural language analysis, social media sentiment analysis and their own research to create the ranking. The report was released on Sept. 26, 2016.

In addition, campus crime stats, graduation rates, and student retention rates were taken from U.S. Department of Education annual reports. Campus crime rates are based on the number of crimes per 1,000 residents.

According to BackgroundChecks.org, Bethel has a campus crime rate of one crime per 1,000 residents.

As Bethel College continues to integrate students into the campus environment, White said they continue to emphasize safety.

Bethel has done a great deal to improve lighting on campus, and White said that its student government association has been an important ally in identifying aspects of the campus that could improve overall safety.

"We do work hard to make sure our students feel safe and are safe," White said. "Their input matters to us a great deal."

Noting that most schools' initiatives are student-driven, White also said he is thankful for maintenance staff who address those issues.

Bethel College does not have armed security on campus, but instead maintains a very close relationship with the North Newton Police, as well as the Newton Police and Harvey County Sheriff's Office.

According to White, the college also has an arrangement where, through Student Life, they work closely with local law enforcement, training both professional and student on-campus staff to be able to address safety-related issues and to quickly act in the event of a catastrophic incident.

Fortunately, White said the college has not needed to use such services in a dramatic way, but they are thankful nonetheless.

"I have to praise our local law enforcement," White said, " ...they are very responsive to the college and to our students."

Vice President for Bethel College Student Life Aaron Austin said Bethel Student Life has made concerted efforts to make sure students are aware of safety. Because of the world the students have grown up in, many of them come from their previous schools already being aware.

Austin also praised the college's great relationship with North Newton Police Department, stating that North Newton Police Chief Randy Jordan often takes the time to help out with issues, as well as to offer up helpful information. Austin said communication between the two entities is working well.

Bethel College also has a text-based emergency alert system, which Austin said is helpful.

"I think a lot of it comes down to the community and the things we try to do here on campus – to build a community where students get to know each other and take responsibility for each other," Austin said.

If a student props a door open because they don't want to have a key, Austin said they compromise the safety of that space for everybody. That same mentality is what they try to stress to students.

"I think that has had a lot of impact," Austin said, "that students realize, 'my little convenience is not worth potentially putting somebody else at risk.'"

Devonte Singleton has been attending Bethel for a few months. He is studying Social Work and moved to Newton from Los Angeles.

"Los Angeles is definitely a lot more dangerous than Newton, Kansas," Singleton said. "Right here, in Bethel specifically, I feel pretty safe. I can walk around any time in the night and be okay."

Singleton said that relationships between he and his peers on campus are incredibly strong. He has never encountered a dangerous situation on campus.

"[There is] no aggression from any party of people," Singleton said, "no drunk nights and no drunk, aggressive behavior – everybody is pretty cordial here [and] and everybody knows each other."