Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Crime at U of D

I'm looking at the front page of The Review, the student newspaper at the University of Delaware. What do I see?

Well today's poll question is "Do you think the University is doing enough to make the campus feel safer?"

Well the campus is a gun / weapon free zone. I've discussed UD's weapons policy before, which basically makes anything a weapon, including the benchmade I carried anyway while I was a student. UD's policies are all feel-good bullshit, which is typical of academia.

Also on the front page are these two articles discussing recent violent crime in Newark. This isn't a new problem. There were muggings, assaults, armed robberies & burglaries during my time at Delaware, though it seems they've been happening with more frequency in recent years.

Here's one discussing muggings on campus. Apparently criminals target college students! WOW, what a shocking revelation. In the article they talk to a junior who says she's feels "left in the dark" about crime on campus. Oh come on, crime stats are easily available online and if you needed the University to tell you there's violent crime on campus you're hopelessly naive.

Patel is quoted in the article as saying,

"I think now is the time to make a public statement and give students a sense of security before a student gets mugged and ends up being killed, and then they decide to make bigger moves."

Wonderful. Let's have President Harker issue a statement about the recent crime and offer some empty platitudes so students "feel safe." I have news for Patel. Words that give a "sense of security" won't keep one person from being mugged or killed. There's going to be crime in Newark and students need to be aware of their surroundings. Also, UD Public Safety can't do much about this. Public Safety is mostly comprised of UD students in official looking uniforms and they're unarmed. At least the University gained a little common sense in the last year and allowed University Police to carry sidearms.

Another article says campus crime isn't "normal." I'm not sure what this student thinks the University should to do combat the crime. U of D is a fairly sprawling campus intertwined with the city of Newark. Every fall and spring there's a huge influx of college kids who are perfect targets for criminals. Population density alone should tell you there's going to be an uptick in crime. Also, It's not uncommon for career criminals from Wilmington to come to Newark to commit crimes. The University can increase UDPD foot patrols but Newark and the campus are far too expansive for any number of police to keep students safe.

Look. If you live off-campus keep your doors and windows locked at all times, try to be aware of your surroundings and don't walk alone. As I've discussed in previous entries, I believe you should carry a weapon with you so long as it's legal under state law. The University might discipline you for using a knife or carabiner in self-defense, or even for using good fox-labs pepper spray. Still, it's better to have it just in case. This is particularly true in Newark, where it's unlikely police will get to you in time to help, even if you're at one of those awesome "blue light phones" the University has set up.

The editorial even complains about South College Ave. and Cleveland Ave., apparently perturbed at lack of police presence in those areas. Maybe I'm just crazy, but I recently graduated, and South College & Cleveland Ave. were probably the two places where there actually WAS police presence. (along with North College)

She does get one thing right with this statement,

"Students who live off campus are left to their own defenses on streets that are becoming more dangerous."

There are a few things the University and Newark PD can do to combat crime on campus. Mainly, they can increase police foot patrols and public safety escort services (which most students don't take advantage of anyway) Beyond that, students are on their own. That's just reality, and the sooner students understand that rather than pushing for the University to "do something" the better off they'll be.


protector said...

At Ucrime we are attempting to increase awareness and safety by mapping these events. I hope you find it of use.

Mike W. said...

Thanks for the e-mail Colin. Your website looks like a great resource.