Accepting crime on our campuses

I fear we are becoming more desensitized to crimes happening around us.

Year after year, more coverage is made about criminal activities on campus. While there’s no denying the University is situated in a big city rather than some isolated college town, I am baffled that a Midwestern city like Minneapolis would have a high crime rate like New York City or Los Angeles. Has the University become a festering ground for criminals who prey upon college students?

This past year alone we’ve had alleged rapes on campus, car break-ins, sexual assault in broad daylight and students’ homes being burglarized – in addition to the high occurrence of bikes stolen on campus. While this is not unusual from year to year, the frequency and audacity of the crimes is alarming.

As college students we innately trust and depend on friends and peers to help us cope with classes, jobs and relationships. Sometimes the trust we so willingly place on our friends misconstrues the reality that not everything around us is equally trustworthy. What makes me so wary now is that more and more friends who I am close to have bared witness to or are victims of crime on campus. That’s just one too many people for me.

Two weeks ago my roommate was studying at Walter Library and the guy beside her left his laptop and books behind as he stepped outside to take a call. While he was away a boy not older than 15 strolled up and sat in the empty seat. The boy asked my roommate where his brother was and said that the he needed to borrow the laptop. I suppose that would have sounded somewhat believable, but the boy went on to say that his “brother” was borrowing the laptop from him and that he needed it back. A scheme to steal the laptop would have unfolded before my roommate’s eyes had she not deterred the boy and warned him that the owner of the laptop was about to return shortly. While common sense tells us not to abandon our possession in public settings, the fact that young kids can come on campus and harass college students was unforeseeable to me a year ago.

I fear we are becoming more desensitized to these campus crimes as they become daily norms. Must this mean that every time the season gets warm, the Daily features an article about how to prevent bike thefts on campus? Does this also mean we should provide a reality check on campus crimes as part of freshman orientation? Should we tell them, “Be warned – crime happens (in your backyard)?”

The local news covered a story about a peeping tom in Stadium Village, arrested for peering underneath and above the blinds on windows. The man had been released from jail just a few days prior and had a history of peeping through people’s windows. Needless to say, he will probably wind up in jail again. This news report hit home for me because while I was hunting for a place to live next fall, I actually had considered signing a lease for this exact house. Now, I’ll just be a block down from the alleged site of the crime.

Perhaps students living farther off campus would have a better feel of what Minneapolis crime is like. The old joke is that if you can’t hear sirens outside your apartment every night, something’s wrong and the police aren’t doing their job. It’s upsetting to realize that while certain neighborhoods are known to have high crime rates, more unnecessary crimes occur within closer proximity to campus.

While the campus doesn’t guarantee any sort of safety net against crime, students deserve to feel safe studying on campus. We need to be assured that these crimes we’re reading about won’t just become some daily norm. Amid studying for finals, finding a summer job and working to pay the bills, we shouldn’t have to accommodate our lifestyles.

Feifei Xue is a University student. Please send comments to [email protected]