Students, let’s get real — We deserve more information about campus security and safety.
Safety is always a concern on college campuses. When students are involved in incidents of violence and crime, it’s a bigger concern.
It’s uncomfortable to think that we could be victims of a crime. When students joke about not going farther than 24th Street, their joke has a bit of truth in it. We’re not naive. We know what goes on in the neighborhood. We know what happens. We’re informed. We should not, however, live in fear about it. We need to ask the administration to alert us early on if there is a potential for students to be in danger. We need to let the officials at Drake know we need to know when crime is happening. We deserve to know.
On Aug. 31, three students were robbed at gunpoint while sitting on their porch in the 2400 block of Drake Park Ave. The gunman told them to get on the ground and demanded cellphones and wallets.
Then, on Sept. 5 in the 2300 block of Drake Park Avenue, gunfire damaged houses, whose tenants are not students. The Des Moines Register tweeted shortly after the shooting at Drake Park. That confused some students who, unfamiliar with the neighborhood, thought the shooting occurred at the Drake Park Apartments on 34th Street.
No mention of the shooting was given to students via social media, emails alerts or anything else. Clarification was eventually given as to the exact location of the gunfire, but students were still feeling uneasy.
Later on Aug. 31, a campus-wide email went out from Hans Hanson, director of campus security services: “For students in particular, who are more likely to be out in the neighborhood in the evening hours, it is essential you have a commitment to avoid high-risk behaviors, such as walking off campus alone late at night or engaging in activities that can compromise your alertness and judgment.”
This isn’t always possible. Students study late at night in the library — alone — and walk home. The library now closes at 1 a.m., but what happens when the 24-hour study space opens? Knowing that security has closed circuit TV surveillance across campus is helpful, but what can that do for students who live off-campus?
President David Maxwell, Dean of Students Sentwali Bakari and other administrators are working with Des Moines Police and are reassuring the campus community that it is safe.
Hanson added in his email: “While our own campus crime data confirm that a member of the Drake community is no more likely to be a victim of any type of crime than on the vast majority of other campuses in the country — and much less likely than on many — we are not immune.
Students need access to those statistics. They should be readily available and not hard to find on the website. We need to know how much crime is going on in the area.
If there is a shooting only a few blocks from campus — whether students are involved or not — we should know. Students live in that area and could be in danger. Or maybe students should be told about the process of deeming something “not a threat” to the campus.
An alert isn’t necessary for every incident, but students need to be alerted when an dangerous event is happening — on- or off-campus. Students who are well-informed about neighborhood crime are less likely to be worried and suspicious.
As a student body, we need to be seeking answers and asking questions. It’s our safety and our campus. We need to be informed. We can’t do that by just passively tweeting and sitting by.
Ask what we can do for our campus, and we can change it. We need to ask for openness when it comes to matters of security. We, as students, need to be in the know about the policies concerning when a notification goes out and when it does not.