Staff ed: Communicate to all on issues of safety

Around 8:15 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 31, Washington University students were scheduled to receive a “security memo” in their inbox. For some, however, the email never came.

The memo detailed an incident occurring at the intersection of Kingsbury Boulevard and the Centennial Walkway at approximately 12:35 a.m. As a person crossed Kingsbury, she noticed three people standing near the road, and one approached her, pulled out a gun and pushed her to the ground. As she yelled for help, the person kicked her, stole her cell phone and attempted to steal her backpack, which she refused to give up. The three subjects then fled the scene and ran down Kingsbury.

This event, obviously an extremely distressing and disturbing incident, impacts the entire University community. It took place within an area patrolled by University security, which is lined with blue lights and in a relatively high traffic area.

The attack took place within half a mile of six Washington University Office of Residential Life-owned student housing areas: the Village, the Greenway Apartments, the University Drive Apartments, the Lofts, the Kingsland Ave Apartments and the Washington Ave Apartments—in addition to dozens of non-University owned buildings, often rented by students. This close proximity, however, did not necessitate notification from the Washington University Police Department. WUPD Chief Mark Glenn has said all Kingsbury residents received the alert, but people within this zone reported having no notice of the event, and others outside of the Kingsbury area received the alert inadvertently.

Additionally, at the time of publication, information about the robbery has still not been posted on WUPD’s daily crime log, and a follow-up email has not been sent to anyone. This means that the only people that know about the event are those that heard about it from the few friends or colleagues that received the initial email.

The Student Life editorial board urges the Washington University Police Department—and any other offices associated with dissemination of alerts—to send all security memos and related warnings to all Washington University students, regardless of housing circumstance.

In the context of this event specifically, the Centennial Walkway is the main passageway to the Delmar Loop and surrounding neighborhoods from the Danforth Campus. Not only is it used by students and homeowners living in the nearby area, but by all University community members.

The bottom of the email lists several “precautions” to be taken by students, including a recommendation to “choose a well-lit path” when traveling. The Centennial Walkway, a well-lit path, is the only option offered by the University to travel to the Delmar Loop, with the exception of walking down Skinker Boulevard itself.

Another precaution listed recommends taking the Campus2Home shuttle service, which leaves Mallinckrodt Center every 30 minutes from 6 p.m. to 4 a.m. daily. While a worthwhile and helpful service to some, the shuttle’s range is limited to four areas near the Danforth Campus, as published on the Campus2Home website. There is a notable gap in service, however, to the Delmar Loop as a whole and specifically the block between Kingsbury Avenue and the Loop to the east of Skinker Boulevard. Additionally, the service can only return students to their homes, not help them get back to campus at later hours.

While we appreciate the University’s commitment to protecting its students and its suggestions to enhance a student’s safety, this commitment cannot be fulfilled if students are never alerted of events that take place. If Washington University and WUPD truly wish to improve their services, they must follow through on their promises and maintain a transparent system for all.