Campus safety a concern for some

| Contributing Reporter

Last week’s robbery and the related University-wide e-mails have heightened student awareness of safety on and off campus.

While some students say that they continue to feel as safe as ever, others say they are more fearful.

“I feel pretty safe. I see the Wash. U. police patrol around the neighborhood pretty regularly, especially at night,” said Daniel Garcia, a junior who lives in the Skinker-DeBaliviere neighborhood. “It’s nice to bike home at night and more often than not I see a Wash. U. Campus Security SUV somewhere in the neighborhood.”

Junior Lisa Miller expressed the opposite sentiment.

“I used to feel pretty safe last year on and off campus,” Miller said. “I know you’re not supposed to, but I have walked at home by myself from off campus back onto campus, but now I don’t feel safe anywhere off campus after 7 or 8 p.m., when it starts to get dark.”

Washington University Police Chief Don Strom said he is confident that most students feel safe. Regarding some students’ concerns about safety, Strom said that students “should take advantage of” various security services that are available at no expense but are not used by many students.

Among colleges in the region, Washington University has the strongest safety system, Strom said. It is uncommon for a college to have a full-time police department, an extensive closed-circuit television system, an individual escort service and a direct shuttle from campus, all of which the University provides.

Students can choose whether to use the service, but Strom said that students should note that previous crimes might not have happened if the victims utilized campus security services.

Though the latest crime was robbery at gunpoint, the most frequent crimes are “crimes of opportunity,” according to Strom. These are crimes caused by a student’s lack of awareness, such as propping open doors or leaving private properties unattended. According to Strom, with a little bit of attention, these crimes will be reduced significantly.

According to latest statistics the University submitted to the U.S. Department of Education, there were five off-campus robberies in 2008, nine in 2007, and six in 2006.

Strom stressed that safety is a “shared responsibility.” All students, faculty members, staff and campus police should have the awareness of safety issues and work together to maintain it.

Freshman Eli Madden said he is aware of the risk of living in a metropolitan area.

“This is a city, so people have to be careful,” Madden said. “On campus, though, I haven’t felt any less safe since that incident.”

Ackert Walkway Avenue is a direct path from campus to the Loop that many students do not consider to be safe.

Strom said that there is a security patrol 24 hours a day and lighting can also be added in that area if it is needed, based on an annual campus security tour.

With additional reporting by Puneet Kollipara.

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