Crime alerts should be sent to all students
Mardi Gras presented the first major party occasion of 2013 (not counting New Year’s), and hundreds of students made their ways to get-togethers throughout St. Louis over the weekend. The annual celebration made headlines after a man was shot and killed just south of the parade route in Soulard.
Students do not isolate themselves solely to the areas in which they live and campus. And yet for many students, information about crimes that happen beyond those locations is limited to outside media outlets. The end result is that students are often unaware that any crimes have even occurred.
On Jan. 24, a Washington University student was mugged in broad daylight, but unless you live in the Rosedale or Waterman area, you probably didn’t hear about it that day—at least not from the University. Three days earlier, a robbery occurred on the 7300 block of Forsyth Blvd., but students living on the other side of campus were not notified.
It is a disservice to the student body that only a subsection of it received these two crime alerts via email. Student safety needs to be a top priority for administration, and campus-wide crime alerts are a necessary step to ensure that all members of the University community are informed of the situation.
Under the current system for crime alerts, a student living on the South 40 would not be sent an email notification of a crime committed on Washington Ave. But this system ignores a basic aspect of college life: students will go out and about beyond their residences.
Although the University population is spread out all around the campus, the number of students in the Waterman area, for example, can fluctuate tremendously depending on day of the week and time of day. There are plenty of social events held on Waterman Blvd., especially on Friday and Saturday nights, and students deserve to know about any potential dangers in the area.
St. Louis was named the nation’s most dangerous city by U.S. News & World Report in 2011. Forbes ranked it second most dangerous in 2012, but either way, the fact remains that crime is a major problem, and students need to be aware of every potential safety concern there might be. There’s something to be said for not wishing to alarm the student body, but selectively releasing important information does everyone a disservice.
The current system is most likely in place to avoid causing any panic among the entire student body. It is also possible that if students get used to seeing the repeated crime alerts, they will stop paying attention to the actual content of the reports.
However, these arguments are feeble compared to the overall safety of the student body. There are only so many times that the Washington University Police Department, University City Police Department and Clayton Police Department can increase patrols to crack down on crime. Commuters and party-goers need to use a certain amount of common sense, and they can only make reasoned decisions if they are fully informed of the situation. This is a relatively easy situation to fix; the simple act of emailing everyone about crime alerts would increase not only openness but overall safety.