Rob Wild addresses SU about student concerns regarding recent crime
Student Union Senate hosted Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Rob Wild Tuesday to discuss safety and address student concerns following a spike in crime over the weekend.
While the session was open to students and was designed to address any concerns or questions they may have, only those affiliated with Student Union (SU) attended Wild’s session. Senators spoke on behalf of concerns they heard from their constituents over the past few days.
Junior class president Nathan Card came to the beginning of the Senate meeting to address his concerns about the incidents before Wild arrived.
“I live pretty near where several of those incidents happened, and that does not make me feel safe, and I feel like Wash. U. has the resources to improve that,” Card said. “I read the email from the Chancellor; it’s kind of vague, but promising. I’m hoping to get some more detail about what exactly is forthcoming.”
According to Wild, the University’s plans to address student safety following the incidents include looking into improvements to the Campus2Home shuttle system and increasing Washington University Police Department (WUPD) bike patrol presence and neighborhood patrols.
Senators raised concerns that have been brought up to them by constituents. The concern raised the most was the University’s decision to discontinue the free Uber program that was offered in the fall 2018 semester in response to a similar rise in off-campus crime at the beginning of the fall semester.
“Free Ubers by and large are the best solution,” SU senator junior Steven Kish said at the meeting. “I’m pretty comfortable saying that students on a pretty broad scale think that that’s the best solution they’ve seen. Quite frankly, I think what happened in my view is that last year, is that we had all those incidents and I’m not trying to imply causation here, but I think there was a correlation between free Uber coming and people feeling safer, and now it’s gone.”
Wild acknowledged that the free Uber program was regarded positively by many students, but said that the program was never intended to be a permanent option and was initiated when the Overpass and East End were under construction and made student commutes longer.
“The real challenge with Uber is that it’s extremely expensive,” Wild said. “While I can’t think today of anything that’s more convenient than subsidized Uber for students, I think the University is not going to consider that as an option moving forward.”
Senate speaker junior Sophie Scott questioned Wild’s explanation of Uber’s challenges.
“When you give the explanation of why we don’t have the Uber program because it’s so expensive, I think the question that arises is ‘how much of a dollar amount is students’ safety worth?’” Scott said.
When SU senator sophomore Dylan Cassilly pointed out that most of the University’s actions regarding safety have seemed primarily reactive to crime instead of proactive, Wild agreed, but maintained that it was not necessarily the case, and that student safety will continue to be a priority in the next few weeks, but after that as well.
“I will say, as the Dean of Students, we talk about safety all the time,” Wild said. “All these shuttle conversations, Campus2Home expansion conversations were all going on before these incidents happened. For University administrators, the safety of the student body…there’s nothing more important than that, both on and off campus.”