Crime on Campus

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Rima Kikani > Junior > English > UMBC

Somewhere, a woman is raped every two minutes, a person is murdered every 60 seconds, and a student suffers an alcohol-related death every 15 minutes. Yet somehow, when we think “campus crime,” a petty wallet theft or that girl who got mugged comes to mind. While these conducts do constitute delinquency, crime expands far beyond stealing.

We may think we’ll be safe as long as we’re back in our pumpkin coach by the time the clock strikes 12. But really, campus crimes are like those objects in the mirror that are closer than they appear.

Last semester, UMBC, known as Maryland’s country campus, witnessed a rare scandal. A Ph.D. candidate accused a prominent chemistry professor of sexually assaulting her in his office. The Catonsville District Court charged him with second degree assault and fourth degree sexual offense. In January, state prosecutors entered a Nolle prosequi, dropping all criminal charges. The 65-year-old professor, however, quietly retired before the spring semester started.

This past December, a Saudi graduate student stabbed an anthropology professor to death. He stabbed him with a 6 inch kitchen knife four times, puncturing a lung, and eventually killing the 77-year-old at Binghamton University.

To prevent being a victim of a crime, the most important instruction UMBC Deputy Chief Manuel Lewis offers is to stay alert at all times. This includes knowing your surroundings, walking confidently, keeping your head up, and looking people in the eye, because otherwise would suggest vulnerability.

A victim at Ohio State reiterated how she was robbed one night walking home from class. The man demanded money, and when she gave it to him, he fled without hurting her. She explains that the incident “taught [her] to be more careful.”

Lewis tells students that they shouldn’t walk alone at night. He advises them to walk with another person or request a campus escort service, and also park their cars close to their last class.

“When they ask for money, give it to them,” Lewis says. “Don’t become a dead hero.”

Though campus security has taken measures to reduce offenses, crime evolved into a serious issue at Syracuse University recently. There were 34 reports of larceny last October, 25 in November, 20 in December, and 19 this past January.

The University Police directs students to refrain from flashing money, suggests that they enroll in self-defense classes, and most of all, use common sense. Lock dorms and cars, stay in well-lit areas and around other people, and stay in control when out socializing.

The two ingredients of crime are desire and opportunity. “We can’t control a predator’s desire, but can diminish the opportunities he would have to carry out the crime,” Lewis assures.  

The Cinderella campuses may exist somewhere out there, but sadly, most of us have to fly to Orlando for a tangible fairy tale.

College Magazine Staff

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