Brankin: Look out for yourself and others

Crime is continuing to spike on campus; we need to stay alert and advocate for our mutual safety.

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Tara Brankin

I can’t remember the last time more than a few weeks passed without a SAFE-U alert showing up in my inbox. Whether it be a mugging, assault or breaking and entering, crime continues to plague University of Minnesota students in the off-campus neighborhoods of Dinkytown and Marcy-Holmes. The lack of safety on and off campus has become a joke of sorts; even I respond to SAFE-U alerts with a shrug instead of shock anymore. As a third-year student, I have observed a general, steady increase in crime throughout the past few years, and it is becoming evident that we, as students, need to look out for ourselves and our peers.

From Oct. 1 to Oct. 7, five SAFE-U alerts were sent out to students. This disturbing frequency of SAFE-U alerts just over the course of one week exemplifies a real problem with crime off campus. Unfortunately, students need to take some matters into our own hands when it comes to protection and security.

One of the most important ways students can protect themselves is to walk in groups when going home late at night. While traveling in groups does not completely eliminate the possibility of crime, it does significantly decrease the likelihood of being attacked. I personally feel much safer walking around campus or off campus with at least one other person, especially if it is dark out. Now that it is getting darker earlier, it is very important to make sure that if you need to walk somewhere — even if it is to your car — have a friend accompany you.

Another way to stay safe on campus is to download the app, Citizen. This app tracks crime in your area and sends you alerts whenever an unsafe situation arises. Apps like Citizen make it easy to know where crime is concentrated on campus and show you areas to avoid in real time. The utilization of Citizen enables students to take control of their own safety and not rely on others to protect them.

However, the responsibility of staying safe shouldn’t just fall on students. I believe that the city of Minneapolis should push crime prevention initiatives, like increasing street lights in the Dinkytown and Marcy-Holmes areas. I would feel a lot safer if the streets were more well-lit in these areas, especially given the recent influx of crime.

While some people may believe that increasing police presence on campus would reduce crime, it is not that simple. In fact, evidence states that it is unlikely crime will go down even if there is a higher concentration of police. According to a USA Today article, as the number of police officers has declined over the past five years, violent crime rates have also decreased. Bringing down crime does not depend on how many officers are in a given area but what the city is doing with the officers to prevent crime from occurring. I think it is quite apparent that even if police presence increased on campus, crimes that victimize students would still occur.

It makes me sad that students have to take safety into their own hands, but it is clear that not enough is being done to prevent crime from increasing on and off campus. We need to look out for each other and take the proper steps to keep ourselves safe.