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Saturday, November 26, 2022

Crime

Campus security raises safety concerns among some students


When it comes to keeping the area around UH safe, students have spilt opinions. | Trevor Nolley/The Cougar

When it comes to crime around campus, some students are feeling unsafe.

Early in the semester, a UH student was thrown to the ground by an unidentified suspect, who then attempted to steal her backpack. When the suspect could not retrieve the bag, they fled on foot, and the student was hospitalized for her injuries.

The UH Police Department regularly publishes security alerts regarding crimes committed on campus, and this incident marks the first report of Fall 2022. Following the news, several students expressed feeling unsafe. 

“That girl couldn’t even go to the Rec Center without being harassed.” said technology leadership and innovation management junior Jennifer Newitt. “I shouldn’t have to carry pepper spray and freak out every time I’m on campus.”

Other students also discussed ways for the University to improve security, including increasing police presence and making crime alerts more visible. 

“Implementing a crime tab into our AccessUH or UHGo would be helpful in terms of keeping up to date and helping to promote more awareness of campus safety,” said English junior Jimonte Weber.

While many proposed options focused on campus security, others focused on plans to make the surrounding neighborhood safer. 

One such option was for the University to purchase more property in the local area to prevent non-students from wandering onto campus. However, this has raised concerns over further gentrification of Third Ward and the surrounding area. 

“They could build a bunch of 4-6 bedroom houses for students to live in nearby,” suggested computer science and mathematics sophomore Miguel Duran-Martinez. 

English junior Kelsey Taylor, however, expressed concerns over the ethical implications of further gentrification.

“It’s hard to want to advocate for gentrifying; it feels immoral to me,” Taylor said. “But at the same time, that’s what a lot of schools have done to improve campus safety, and it has worked to an extent.” 

When contacted for an opinion, UHPD lieutenant Anthony Davis emphasized how seriously they take campus safety. 

“Many of our staff, including myself, have sons and daughters who attend campuses of higher education. So when these incidents occur on campus, we do not look at it as the cost of doing business,” Davis said.

Davis said that the University was hiring more dispatchers and police as well as upgrading the campus security cameras and dispatch center. 

He also noted several ways students could take their safety into their own hands: staying alert, knowing campus resources and keeping friends updated on your location. 

But some students, including Jennifer Newitt, feel like pushing for personal safety is not enough. 

“I shouldn’t be getting notifications left and right. That’s a sign that something needs to be done.”

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