Staff editorial: WU doesn’t just have a crime problem, it has a communication problem
On Sept. 27, yet another carjacking took place in the area around Washington University. This incident occurred on the 6000 block of Pershing Avenue—mere blocks away from campus—and no one outside the immediate area of the incident was notified.
In the past, the Washington University Police Department has sent out emails notifying students of crimes committed near campus. While these crime report emails usually only go out to the residents living in the vicinity of the crime, during the recent crime spike it is important for all Wash. U. students to stay informed. Due to the ongoing construction on campus, some students may be walking through areas that they normally wouldn’t, and only sending these emails out to students who live in the neighborhood where the crime took place leaves these students uninformed.
Over the course of the past few weeks, WUPD has not changed the way they communicate with the student body, despite the number crimes committed since the start of this academic year. Students are given the same advice about staying safe time and time again, and that advice is not being tailored to the situations in which the crimes occur.
WUPD provides a list of “precautions” at the bottom of every crime report email. The listed suggestions have remained unchanged since as least December 2017—save for the added suggestion of downloading the Noonlight safety app, which everyone should do—and do not reflect initiatives on the University’s behalf to respond to the crime spike. Recent announcements of additional Green Line buses and a partnership with Uber are not listed, making the precautions appear even more dated than they already did (i.e. the suggestion to “carry a whistle to summon help”). Every student should feel safe on and around campus, but at the very least should be notified of the resources available at their fingertips.
Although WUPD updates their website when a crime occurs near campus, few students know to check the site, and realistically would not check it close enough to the time of the crime for it to be immediately useful. Regardless, it is the University’s responsibility to keep its students well-informed and the University should not place that responsibility onto its students.
Not only should the University alert the student body when these crimes occur, many would appreciate continual updates afterward. Currently, we don’t know if any of these carjackings or muggings are linked, nor have we received any information about the progress of the St. Louis Police Department’s investigations into these crimes.
When students are uninformed, they feel unsafe; and when students feel unsafe, the University should respond.