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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Campus safety requires vigilance

    Stan Molevercolumnist
    Stan Molever
    columnist

    Early Saturday morning, a freshman here at the UA was shot through the torso. A night spent enjoying a fraternity party with her friends was brought to an abrupt and violent end when two non-university-enrolled teenagers sprayed bullets at the Phi Gamma Delta house just after 1 a.m. ÿ

    The drive-by came to my attention much the same way news of the Northpointe shooting did back in August – with worried calls from family and friends outside of Tucson making sure everything was all right.ÿ

    But, everything was not all right.ÿ

    Three weeks ago, a gathering at my house turned violent. After being punched in the face, some humiliated guy went to his house, grabbed a gun and returned, waving it at my home and at my friends.

    And all this in addition to a new Justice Department report that found that while overall violent crime fell last year in the U.S., gun violence was on the rise.

    Has the UA become an unsafe place to live and go to school? Are we experiencing a spike in gun violence corresponding to the national trend that the Justice Department reported, or have just a few random acts happened to occur within a short timeframe and made it feel that way?

    Although there are no 2006 crime statistics available at this point, University of Arizona Police Department spokesman Sgt. Eugene Mejia said he is convinced that the “”spike”” in gun violence on and around campus is really nonexistent and that we are not really experiencing much of a difference in gun-related crimes between this year and the last few.

    In reality, unfortunate gun-related crimes have seemed to accompany our school year with some regularity in recent history. Last year, an uninvited guest opened fire at the Kappa Alpha fraternity house, and the year before that, one student shot another over a seat at No Anchovies.ÿ

    But these tragedies don’t make the UA a dangerous campus, at least not any more dangerous than any large college in the middle of a large metropolitan city. In fact, the overall crime rate here looks pretty good.

    Last year, UAPD reported only six incidents of aggravated assault. And that number is down from 22 in 2004 and 13 in 2003 and 2002, so in reality the UA may be becoming a safer place to live.ÿ

    The truth is, however, that no matter how well the UAPD protects our campus, there is no “”protective wall,”” as Mejia put it, between UA and the rest of Tucson.

    And Tucson crime rate statistics are inconclusive. Though Morgan Quitno lists the Tucson Metro area as the 18th most dangerous metro area in the country, according to FBI statistics, cities with similar populations like Albuquerque and Oklahoma City both have many more incidents of aggravated assault.ÿ

    So it’s not as though there is a panic-inducing violent crime rate on campus, nor in the city that surrounds it. But we do live in the real world, in a real city, where violent crime can and does occur. And living in the real world, not a walled-in fortress of protection and education, means being vigilant in our daily lives about our behavior and surroundings.

    For Mejia, the best safety advice for college students is the same he’d give to anyone living in a large metro area: Don’t get involved with gangs or drugs and always be aware of your environment.ÿ

    Tragically, sometimes you can do everything right, and everything can go completely wrong. The young lady shot this weekend was not involved in a gang fight or a drug war, but the real world and the crimes that accompany it entered campus on Saturday morning and victimized her anyway.ÿ

    We are fortunate to have a college campus that enjoys relatively low rates of violent crime, but we err gravely when we forget that the violent crime that exists outside of college campuses can enter our community at any time, despite the best efforts of UAPD.

    So let’s thank and support our law enforcement by being more vigilant about our own safety and that of others – because while many of us may ignore the sometimes dangerous side of the real world, the real world won’t always ignore us.

    Stan Molever is a philosophy and economics senior. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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