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Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Columns

Campus safety remains a hazy notion


Students should report any information to UHDPS or UHPD. The station is located on the corner of Scott Street and Wheeler Avenue | Hannah Laamoumi/The Daily Cougar

Students should report any information regarding a crime to UHPD, which is stationed on Wheeler near TDECU Stadium. | Hannah Laamoumi/The Cougar

One look at the security alerts on the UH Police Department website and it’s not much of a leap to guess why UH students get a little on edge.

While UHPD has a strong presence on the outer perimeter of UH, when it comes to the inner campus area, security begins to feel a bit thin.

At night, the inner campus is more reminiscent of a horror film. With shadows draping every way, one doesn’t know if they’re being overly suspicious or if that figure walking toward them is someone with nefarious intentions. The nearest call box is across campus, and there’s no police officer in sight.

This is the stuff of nightmares, but it’s what every nighttime commuter or resident must face during their walk across the inner campus in the evening.

Studying with fear 

In 2016 alone, there have been nine robberies, two sexual contact assaults and one alleged kidnapping. A violent crime or two to mark each month, thus far.

For commuters who attend classes during the day, the fear of being robbed isn’t at the forefront of their minds. No one in their right mind would stage a robbery in broad daylight, right?

Six of the cited incidents in 2016 took place between noon and 5 p.m., which begs a question: Should there be a legitimate fear to walk around a campus without much visible security?

Of those security alerts, one sexual contact assault, two robberies and the alleged kidnapping all took place within the campus. That’s not exactly half — but enough to get the point across that danger can strike anywhere on campus.

As the number of violent crimes on campus rise, so does apprehension among students. On top of the pressures that come with being a student, worrying about safety should be the last thing on the mind of UH attendees.

To feel that there is a strong police presence within the inner campus as well would give students a peace of mind. They don’t have to wonder whether they are being targeted.

Campus security, on campus

That’s not to say that UHPD hasn’t done their due diligence. But with more than 45,000 students, faculty and staff, it’s impossible for the police to be everywhere at once.

The dreaded walk across campus has become one of extreme paranoia. More than half of the reported robberies in 2016 occurred in parking lots. Going in groups is a smart move, but what about those who have no option but night classes?

And what happens when the nearest emergency call box is too far?

The vast majority of the campus’s total of 64 call boxes are in parking lots and dormitories. Some routes are completely clear of them.

The call boxes on campus are a thing of beauty when there’s an emergency. To see more of them would certainly be a show of good faith both to students and visitors.

Violent crimes can be sudden, and it would be silly to think of the police as omnipotent beings who see all. Yet, to know that help is close would add to campus safety.

While students can certainly make an effort to be more aware of their surroundings by putting away their phones, this doesn’t strictly guarantee safety. No one is ever completely safe, but there would be comfort in seeing as much of UHPD’s presence within the campus as we do externally.

Opinion Columnist Caprice Carter is a communication junior and can bereached at [email protected]

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