Students launch ‘Scarlet Zone’ project for safety
Rutgers is distinct from the city of New Brunswick, despite the proximity between the two. Yet many Rutgers students live beyond the fine line that separates them.
Sam Berman, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, recently discussed the nature of the “Scarlet Zone” project, an initiative aimed at reconstituting a formal control over off-campus activities by identifying concentrations of off-campus students and staff.
“Out of 31,500 undergraduate students, only 16,000 live on campus,” Berman said.
The Rutgers University Student Assembly, the Off-Campus Students’ Association, the Interfraternity Council at the Univeristy and other interested students are contributing to identify “Scarlet Zones” in off-campus areas, where the primary concern is public safety, he said.
Berman said Billy McCaw’s murder warned the Rutgers community about the serious risks students might encounter in the city.
“If you draw a line in New Brunswick, you can make an argument that Rutgers University must be a consistent presence within the off-campus community. McCaw’s case certainly shows the need of surveillance,” he said.
For a few weeks, participants will gather information through surveys and questionnaires in areas from Buccleuch Park to Somerset Street and Easton Avenue. The target population corresponds to off-campus students and staff affiliated with Rutgers.
Despite the idea that being an off-campus student undermines student integration and involvement, students living near campus might just have different needs based on their lifestyles.
An alternate side parking regulation has been implemented since April 1, requiring drivers to park on only one side of the street each day, mostly affecting off-campus students who own cars.
Afterwards, they plan to communicate the survey’s results with Rutgers administrators.
“At some point, we need to make suggestions to better meet their needs,” he said.
Berman also admitted that the administration does not distinguish off-campus students, who may live near Rutgers campuses in New Brunswick, from commuters who live farther away.
Sean Summers, the executive president of the Interfraternity Council, said despite being classified as a commuter, he still lives on the College Avenue campus area.
“I believe that being able to make this distinction alone would allow the University to expand on its current relations with off campus students that reside on the College Avenue area,” said Summers, a School of Arts and Sciences junior.
After identifying the “Scarlet Zones,” they will work toward changing the public safety systems currently active in those zones and increasing landlord accountability, he said in an email.
Summers said off-campus lifestyle lacks of an established community. Therefore, the “Scarlet Zone” initiative aims to grant a sense of belonging and solidarity in the off-campus areas. It will also provide information about where most students reside off-campus so more public safety measures can be requested in a specific area.
“In residence halls, RAs are charged with community building as part of many of their responsibilities. The ‘Scarlet Zones’ would help off-campus students identify as a community and allow their voices to be heard and taken more seriously by the University,” he said in the email.
He was recently involved in incidents that prompted him to contributing to this project’s success.
“Public safety is a huge issue in New Brunswick, and no one should have to feel afraid of the place they call home,” he said.
Saad Shamshair, another student spearheading the initiative, said they will be knocking on doors and walking around off-campus neighborhoods to take the first steps.
“We do not want to exclude anyone because we need a general perception of their living issues,” said Shamshair, a School of Arts and Sciences junior.