Stay sensible when breaking the bubble

| Forum Editor

The Delmar Loop is a major draw for the car-less and lazy at Wash. U. who haven’t quite graduated to the Central West End. A short walk from main campus, it provides a gastronomic haven for those sick of half-and-halfs, along with smoke shops for those who indulge and a brief respite from the cloistered Wash. U. bubble that doesn’t push limits in terms of personal safety.

Unless you’re wandering around at two in the morning, what about the Loop do you have to fear? Everyone knows that St. Louis is a dangerous city (we’re number one! …in violent crime), but it’s easy to slip into a mindset of false security. I mean, robbery or rape can’t happen to me, can it?

Not that I’ve suddenly become wary of venturing down to Delmar, but there has been a disturbing trend of increased violence close to campus. There have been incidents of robbery, assault and even rape in the neighborhoods surrounding Wash. U. On April 9, a University City police officer was attacked near the Delmar Metro stop, drawing a large crowd. Police came to stop the attacker.

I was on the Loop when the altercation was going on. Traffic was backed up, and people were lining the streets.

To be honest, I was a little nervous. People were running out into the streets and one guy even jumped against my boyfriend’s car. This was not a riot, and I didn’t feel like I was in danger. But it was still a strange sight on a street that I tend to view as safe. A few of my friends commented later that they were a little scared by the incident.

The assumption that because we go to Wash. U. we are immune to crime makes very little sense and only encourages obliviousness. It’s always important to be aware of the goings-on in the surrounding area. At the same time, however, it’s important to remember not to use incidents like this as an excuse to stay on campus.

From what I’ve seen, the police presence has stepped up on the Loop. I saw two men arrested in front of Church’s Chicken on Thursday night and an undercover cop (I assume) parked in front of a restaurant. Don’t get me wrong; I love cops. But when I see about a dozen of them hanging out at the Shell station, I have to wonder whether or not I should be worried.

Wash. U., as a university that sells itself not only based on substance but also on image, would be ill served to play up that questionable, yet impressive safety statistic. The University does a decent job of keeping everyone safe, but reports from around campus tend to be more low-key.

“So what’s your point?” you might ask. I am not advocating taking a fearful attitude toward the Loop or St. Louis in general, just a sensible one. Fear is stifling in every sense of the word. Both St. Louis and Wash. U. students would benefit from more cross-engagement. More than a few Student Life editorials have made the same point, but I think it bears repeating

While we need to be aware of potential risks, staying in “the bubble” inhibits the experiences you could be having in St. Louis, cultural and otherwise—this means stepping even beyond the Loop and going downtown for events. Take the Metro somewhere—it’s free with a U-Pass.

  • belnor

    I’m glad that this is written without any intention to scare people away from the loop. I was in the loop on April 8th and 9th. After enjoying what had seemed like just another fun weekend spent there, I read a column notifying me that it should not have been so enjoyable. What I read left much room for the imagination; the constant fear of being attacked by groups of scary youngsters thirsty for crime. What I saw did not: some police lights, groups of people, many police officers, some upset looking teenagers being stopped because of their age, and the usual crowd being let out from the pageant after a concert (drunken altercation included). I even took the last westbound metrolink train home. With two guards on duty, there was no fear there either. The only problem I had, which certainly upset me, was being offered drugs (not the green kind) while all of the police presence was further up the street worrying about groups of suspected hooligans tomfooling about on their Friday night. Personally, I enjoy seeing people from all over St. Louis enjoying the loop (not just college kids with their parents credit card). People must understand that the loop is no place for someone who equates police presence and groups of people (often black) with imminent danger. Relax and use the common sense that mommy and daddy should have taught you about living in the city. If you grew up in a suburb, I guess you might have some catching up to do, and the loop is a great place to start.