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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Campus safety: whose responsibility?

    Last semester, my roommate’s car was broken into and her stereo was stolen twice before Thanksgiving break. During finals, two of my girlfriends were held at gunpoint walking near Sky View Apartments. My house was tagged with graffiti more times than I can count, and the UA’s crime statistics keep climbing.

    According to the U.S. Department of Education Office of Postsecondary Education security statistics, the UA’s on-campus burglary incidents increased by 60 percent from 2003 to 2005 and motor vehicle thefts have more than doubled since 2003.

    Needless to say, I have locked myself in my bedroom, covered my car in bubble wrap and refused to go outside after 4:30 p.m.

    When I first came to take a tour of the UA, one thing the Arizona Ambassadors (who give the campus tours) bragged about was the presence of the University of Arizona Police Department.

    “”We do have UAPD, our own police department, and it’s right on campus,”” Arizona Ambassador Torrey Scott said when asked about campus safety.

    The university tacks on UAPD as proof of safety, as if its mere existence alone is sufficient. And though I am sure you too have seen police riding their bikes around campus on Thursday nights, I can’t help but wonder why, with “”our own police department,”” crime statistics continue to multiply each year.

    The university’s location is often blamed for the crime statistics. “”For our population size and where we’re located, it’s very safe,”” UAPD officer Frank Romero said.

    Although this may be the case, the university doesn’t need justification – it needs a solution.

    The fact that UA car theft and burglary are higher than the Pacific 10 Conference university averages isn’t shocking, but that it’s getting progressively worse each year is unacceptable.

    When I started this column, I thought I knew where to place the blame. I thought it was up to UAPD to change the statistics, but it’s up to students as well.

    There’s a false sense of security and lack of responsibility based solely on those four letters: UAPD. If campus safety is ever going to improve, there will have to be a meeting of the minds.

    UAPD seems to be trying; there’s a long list of programs that UAPD is using or trying to use, including a police officer liaison for every residence hall and greek organization in order to “”build a relationship,”” Romero said.

    Other programs include Campus Watch and the 911 Bluelight phones, which, by the way, have a two minute and 14 second response time.

    Regardless of these programs, statistics are not improving. And other than breaking up fraternity parties, ticketing bicyclists and filing reports for a student’s third stolen stereo, students and UAPD remain disconnected.

    On the other hand, students toss safety and responsibility over to UAPD as though the two were unrelated to them. Students complain about safety, crime and “”that time my car was broken into,”” and rightfully so. But it’s going to take more than just upset students and UAPD’s programming attempts to have a safe campus and decreasing statistics to go along with it.

    “”We can’t be everywhere all the time, so we ask for your help,”” Romero said.

    Officer Romero has a point; working with UAPD might help. I’m not saying you should bike around campus with them on the weekends, but students are going to have to make safety a priority and take the initiative.

    Petition UAPD, the Associated Students of the University of Arizona or the administration for more well-lit areas, more frequently patrolled parking lots and fewer resources spent on off-campus antics.

    UAPD has extended an invitation to a relationship with students through the liaison program. Students who live in residence halls can find their “”Res Hall Liaison”” on the UAPD Web site, www.uapd.arizona.edu. So far, it isn’t working because students don’t know much about it. I didn’t know UAPD would be willing to talk to me, until recently. But I can’t imagine they wouldn’t extend the same courtesy to anyone else.

    In a perfect world we could walk alone at night and leave our doors unlocked, but that isn’t the case. Additionally, building a 20-foot wall around the parking lots isn’t possible (I asked). And staying inside after 4:30 p.m. is a little much.

    Nevertheless, bubble wrap will be available in all Zone 1 parking lots, just in case.

    Chelsea Jo Simpson is a journalism sophomore. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu

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