As we settle into classes and our fall routines, three points of interest should be noted for the benefits of safety and public
awareness. As noted in multiple Daily news stories issues arise in our campus neighborhoods that are affecting all of us. The first issue is public safety. As we all read about recently, two students were brutally attacked and beaten while they were simply walking down the street last weekend in Dinkytown. While unprovoked attacks are rare, this incident highlights the need for more public safety education. Since we left campus last spring, attacks and robberies against students are becoming more and more commonplace.
Two courses of action against crime need to be addressed for better safety. The first lies with yourself and becoming more aware of your surroundings in different situations. While this will not completely stop incidents against students, it will surely lower the rate of occurrence. Taking extra care and precaution when coming home from the bar and being careful that you are not going to find yourself in a compromising situation, such as wandering home alone drunk, will greatly reduce your chance of becoming a victim of crime. Also, let the police know if you see or are part of a questionable situation to ensure that student safety is taken more seriously on campus.
The second course of action in regards to public safety ties into an article that the Daily carried recently over the amount of University police officers available. According to records, the University has the lowest police-to-student ratio in the Big Ten. This is clearly deplorable, something that both the students and the administration should not be proud of. More needs to be done to improve this ratio in hopes of bringing safety back to students both on campus and in the surrounding neighborhoods.
Seeing that this is a “priority” of President Bruininks, maybe it would be a good time for students to start voicing their concerns and demanding a new course of action. While there are many important and large changes taking place on campus, student safety must not be forgotten by those in charge. If this University wants to achieve the status of a top three research-based institution in the world, it would be imperative to make sure students attending this institution feel safe and secure both on campus and in the neighborhoods surrounding the campus.
Considering the continued shortage of police officers on campus, it is interesting to note that they continue to carry out the Operation NightCap policy. The operation works to send a message to those committing mostly drinking-related offenses. In the first operation of the semester, it handed out over 175 citations on the first weekend of school, with the vast majority going to underage drinkers. On top of this tactic there is the recently passed city ordinance regarding noisy and unruly assembly. Sharpening up the existing ordinances, it is now possible for house parties and gatherings to receive fines. This is also a warning to students who can be punished for having a party at their house.
While NightCap and the ‘unruly’ ordinance have benefits for improving livability in the neighborhood for all, there are other solutions I would like to propose to the public. The first is that the police manpower be directed elsewhere. There should be a greater emphasis on deterring and solving the violent crimes that affect everyone. Handing out drinking citations does not equate to solving robberies, burglaries, and assaults. Seeing that students have to cope with brazen and violent attacks, the police, along with the University administration, need to do more to make campus and the neighborhoods we live in safer.
I add that in order for the police to refocus their efforts on more pressing police work, students need to step up their social skills. As many of the house parties are reported for being too loud or crazy, students should make the effort to ensure their parties do not get to that point. The first place to start would be by talking to your neighbors both student and nonstudent. Simple communication goes a long way. Discussing with your neighbors your plans to have a party creates an open door of dialogue on expectations and limitations. Secondly, making sure that your party does not get out of control will help to put NightCap police on a different mission, such as finding real criminals intent on committing violent acts.
This semester, be smart on the streets, be smart with the parties and demand that student safety become a real priority for this ‘world class’ institution.
Matt Hill is the Marcy-Holmes student liason. Please send comments to [email protected]