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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “Editorial: Campus safe, but surrounding area is not”

    We wouldn’t blame students if they felt a little shaken up as they walked to class this week. It’s been an unnerving weekend.

    Two men were shot and killed by a UA student while they were allegedly trying to break into his home at North Tyndall Avenue and East Adams Street early Friday morning. Later that day, the Bank of America on North Stone Avenue west of campus was robbed. Another student was shot at Monday morning around 12:40 a.m. between Old Main and Centennial Hall on University Boulevard.

    All of these events were disturbing in and of themselves; taken as a whole, they’re downright scary. Even if the drive-by shooting took place in the middle of the night, it’s disturbing to think that it happened on the same stretch of street many of us use to walk to class every day.

    Gun violence on college campuses is a relatively rare event, but a horrific shooting at the UA College of Nursing in 2002 drew the entire country’s attention, and last year’s mass murder spree at Virginia Tech aroused a nationwide debate over the wisdom of permitting guns on campuses.

    The campus itself, however, is reasonably safe. The University of Arizona Police Department has a strong presence on campus, and there’s at least one emergency blue light in sight almost everywhere on campus.

    Last year, the UA introduced a new safety system called UA Alert, which alerts students and faculty via text message in the event of a campus emergency. It remains to be seen how effective the program is -ÿafter an ammonia spill caused a dorm evacuation in February, students told the Daily Wildcat that they felt the alerts were too vague to be useful – but it’s a reasonable start.

    The area immediately surrounding campus, however, is far from reasonably safe, as recent events have shown. One of the Daily Wildcat’s own reporters was mugged recently while walking down University Boulevard west of Euclid Avenue, as we reported Oct. 15.

    “”As soon as you start getting off campus itself, away from the buildings, that’s where I feel there’s much less security, and I feel that you’re much more at risk to be victimized,”” said Ian Lamoureux, a second year medical student who owns a gun.

    Lamoureux said that he’s never had to use his gun, but that it may have saved his life last March when several people tried to break into his apartment in the middle of the night.

    “”I basically picked up the rifle, loaded it, cocked it and the sound of it was more than enough to scare them off,”” he said.

    There’s no escaping the fact that the UA lies in the middle of a fairly crime-racked region of the country. According to the Tucson Police Department Web site, there have been 39 burglaries and 17 muggings in the West University neighborhood alone in 2008.

    As upsetting as it is that there was a drive-by shooting, it’s telling that it happened in a nearly deserted area in the middle of the night. That’s not a recipe for safety anywhere in town.

    Taking responsibility for one’s own safety is certainly the best way to avoid dangerous confrontations. For some students, that may well mean becoming a licensed gun owner – especially when it comes to protecting yourself from break-ins.

    Those who don’t want to own guns should take additional precautions to protect themselves, such as parking in well-lit areas and traveling in groups. All the precautions we might take to make ourselves feel safer on campus won’t do us any good if we forget about them the second we start heading for home.

    Editorials are determined by the Daily Wildcat opinions board and written by one of its members. They are Andi Berlin, Justyn Dillingham, Lauren LePage, Lance Madden and Nick Seibel.

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