Rhodes College - concerned about safety in Memphis

My daughter just toured Rhodes College and absolutely loved everything about it, but she felt nervous for her safety around Memphis downtown. She has travelled, knows how to be city safe, but felt concerned when walking around the city. Anyone have experience as a Rhodes student or parent? Would appreciate any feedback as this is definitely her favorite college to date.

No issues for bff’s son or his now wife. And he lived off campus. Not sure how often they went further from campus.

No issue for the niece who is loving everything about her life at Rhodes.

I believe that Memphis topped the FBI list for most violent crimes this year or last year.

OP: Your daughter’s perception is accurate as shown by crime statistics. The campus of Rhodes College is safe, the city of Memphis is not.

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To quote the FBI:

If the OP’s daughter doesn’t feel safe, that’s her call. Making a blanket statement based on one metric- which the provider of the metric specifically cautions against doing- is unhelpful.

Yes, Memphis has a lot of crime issues. But it rarely touches the privileged world that Rhodes students live in- on campus, and in the parts of Memphis that they engage with.

Having lived in a lot of places that are considered ‘dangerous’ by outsiders, It is almost always true that the real picture is more complicated. Ask anybody who lives in DC, Baltimore, NYC, Atlanta, Belfast (during the Troubles), Paris, Sao Paulo, Rio, etc., etc.

Thank you all for your responses.

We toured Rhodes with our daughter, and while she liked the campus, she also had concerns about the area outside the “walls” of Rhodes. She also found it telling that the campus was literally gated, and she decided to take it off her list. We live in a big city (one mentioned in the post above actually), so she is perhaps a bit more aware of the potential for crime, etc. I’m not sure if this is helpful, but I just wanted to let you know that my daughter had the same concerns as yours.

I’m in my last year at Rhodes right now. Most common crime on campus is car thefts or small car break ins. It doesn’t happen that often, and usually only happens to student who bring really nice cars (almost always an audi) on campus and park them for long periods of times. I might feel a little unsafe walking directly outside Rhodes gates alone at late at night, but that is how I would feel anywhere. Rhodes students go downtown a lot during the day and at night in groups, and feel safe doing so.

Sophomore here at Rhodes. The campus is generally safe, but I would not go out after dark. Most common crimes are sexual assaults, but Rhodes has been trying to create a positive atmosphere that call for greater awareness and take care of victims. I have heard about a few gunshots in areas near campus, but very rare.

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Memphis is a very dangerous city. Lots of violent crime. Even though the campus may be safe, students do go outside the gate for nightlife.

Just because crime stats are voluntarily submitted to the FBI by local police does not mean that they are inaccurate.

As a parent of a sophomore there, I can tell you my son feels very safe. He is planning on living off campus next year and doesn’t fear the short 5-minute walk to campus even after dark. He has a car and takes advantage of the surrounding areas (Midtown, Cooper-Young) as well as downtown.

This comes up with a number of colleges, NYC schools, Hopkins, Trinity in Hartford, Pitt, to name a few. It comes down to a judgement call. It’s in the picture. If a school similar enough accepts the student without this factor, go there. For some the possible danger factor eliminates the school.

Just returned from an athletics recruiting visit to Rhodes. To say my D fell in love might be an understatement. She found the school beautiful, students (particularly the players on the team) to be fun and down to earth, and really liked being part of a city. Rhodes has definitely moved up the list. We have a visit to Sewanee in a couple weeks, so should be an interesting contrast.

Here’s my 411 on Rhodes and Memphis with a freshman son who goes off campus quite a bit - Memphis is fun. The surrounding area is not scary during the day - I mean the Memphis Zoo is across the street. At night no one should be walking alone off campus - there are off campus parties at Rhodes. This is especially true when it’s late and after some drinks. Common sense, right? Nothing good happens after midnight (my mantra to my kids).
My daughter looked at Trinity in Hartford. Now that felt scary - Baltimore scary. I didn’t want to park anywhere except on campus and I do not feel that way about Rhodes.
I would feel fine about my daughter’s safety going to Rhodes but Trinity would come with my constant reminders not to venture off campus, be smart, etc. I would drive her nuts.
I think with these urban schools it depends on how much of a buffer surrounds the campus - Rhodes has a bit of a buffer - a school like Trinity has none.


I grew up in a “bad neighborhood” about 5 miles from the Rhodes campus and I have spent quite a bit of time in that area of town over the years. The Rhodes campus and immediate surroundings are well protected. That being said, Memphis can be very dangerous at night.

My personal advice is to always stay in groups when traveling at night, and to be wary traveling to unfamiliar parts of the city at night. I take certain precautions inside of the I-240 loop (only getting gas in the daytime for example) because I have seen all of Memphis and there are some really rough areas with lots of crime and poverty. Rhodes is a fanatic school with a beautiful campus and I know that they put a premium on the safety of the student body, so I would have no problem sending my kids to Rhodes. College students should be taking precautions at any school situated in an urban environment however, and Rhodes is no exception.

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There are a number of schools in areas that have a higher than average crime rate, upper 25th % crime rate. There are ratings about the safety in the areas around the schools.

It comes down to a personal decision. DH and I went schools in schools that rank way up there in crime stats. The schools have safety issues even to this day, (in fact, even more). But both schools have sky rocketed in rankings, applications, and being highly selective.

I spent three days in Memphis some years ago, checking out Rhodes which was a top choice for one of my kids. I wouldn’t have had any issues with any of mine going there.

I have a daughter who is considering Rhodes. We visited before the pandemic and found the campus and the school has a lot to offer. I am wondering what do students at Rhodes there do for fun. While we like the intimacy of the campus we are concerned that there may not be be enough of student activities there. Also, where do kids go in town for entertainment. I have another daughter in the Bronx, New York, and Rhodes looks nothing like it. Looking for some real insight as safety is a concern.

I am hoping someone will reply. Rhodes looks like it could be a very good match for my daughter, but assessing safety and social scene is really hard. We’ve never been to Tennessee or Arkansas, it is a several thousand mile trip.

You can always look at a current calendar of activities to see what’s available, whether clubs, visiting lecturers, etc. Of course, things are different with covid- but they are everywhere. And most kids on enclosed camapuses are not running off into town as much as one may think. In many ways, college life isn’t like high school, where our kids may range far and wide.

My godson loved Rhodes. Bff and I drove through on a road trip and thought the immediate area was nice.

I live near a major U and because of my relationship with them, get the crime reports. This is considered a reasonably safe smaller city. But, c’mon, kids get mugged at 2am, walking back to dorms, loaded with their gear. When I was in grad school, there was a shortcut back to the dorms and, yup, kids who took it were often caught off guard.

We have to teach them to be reasonable.

Thank you for your excellent suggestion. Even better than looking at this year is looking at last year, pre-Covid. I don’t think the event calendar was complete because I never saw any listings for music ensembles. They did have some sports, but not all (no swimming for example), and some lectures but I’m guessing there are more. Probably the biggest surprise is the only activities listed on Fri or Sat night were sports events, with may just one or two exceptions.