Students weigh in on campus safety after streak of crimes during first week of school
The first week of school at Rutgers draws new students, new classes and new crime. Only seven days in and Rutgers crime is in the spotlight for more than one incident.
Students received a crime alert on Aug. 30 when a Rutgers student was sexually assaulted in a backyard at 2:45 a.m. near Richardson Street and Wyckoff Street, according to NJ.com.
On Aug. 30, a young woman was shot near the intersection of Hamilton Street and Hartwell Street, according to New Brunswick Today.
Five football players were arrested and suspended indefinitely for armed robbery and assault, according to NJ.com.
"Rutgers takes the safety and well-being of our University community very seriously," Rutgers Spokesman E.J. Miranda told mycentraljersey.com.
Students weighed in on the topic of safety on campus.
“Coming back to school was hectic with two or three crime alerts only the first week. It also made it seem, especially to freshmen, that Rutgers is an unsafe university,” said Victoria Yoffe, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore.
With the seemingly increased in crime also comes a change of behavior for some students.
"My mom bought me pepper spray before my freshman year here. I'm a junior now, and for the first time I feel I have to open it and take it with me. I don’t feel safe here anymore,” said Nava Friedman, a School of Nursing junior.
She said it has come to the point where if one of her friends says they live near Hamilton Street, a street two blocks away from central campus, she feels necessary to ask if they feel safe living there.
Some students living off-campus, even just one block away from College Avenue, feel unsafe in or walking to their own home.
“I really try not to walk back to my house alone at night now that I’m living off-campus,” said Rebecca Japko, a School of Nursing junior.
She said if she’s out late, she feels it is necessary to ask a friend to walk her home. If that is not a possibility, Japko said she feels her safety is at risk and instead sleeps at a friend’s house until she returns in the morning.
Not all students take the recent crime increase as seriously.
“This stuff happens everywhere,” said Joana Marmelo, a Rutgers Business School sophomore. “I don't feel any less safe than last year.”
She said she does not think there is going to be an outbreak of crime.
“It was just that last year it wasn't our students doing the crime. It happened all the time, it just was not as publicized,” she said.
For some students, crime is not anything new or alarming.
There has been crime in New Brunswick in previous years as well, said Rose Soskind, an Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy fifth-year student.
For Soskind, the recent crime is not anything to be more fearful of than the previous years she has been around the New Brunswick area.
"Since my country, Venezuela, is more dangerous than here, I wouldn't consider Rutgers the most dangerous place," said Lucy Mattout, a School of Arts and Sciences senior.
Whether students are more fearful on campus or not, most are still making an effort to be aware of their surroundings to stay safe.
“It is important to just be aware of one's surroundings, both with a group and especially when alone,” Soskind said.
Yoffe said it is important to keep in mind that safety is in groups, and if you absolutely need to go out alone, ask someone to walk with you.
Some students think the crime has been consistent for too long and that the University is not taking the proper precautions.
“Since I got here all the crime alerts have increased, and I don't think that Rutgers is really working toward the goal of security like they should,” Mattout said.
Rutgers is trying to improve public safety by sending out crime alerts and increase the number of police patrol units on campus and throughout the neighborhoods of New Brunswick, according to CBS.
Editor's Note: A previous version of this article said the Rutgers football team's quarterback, Chris Laviano, was arrested for armed robbery and assault in an incident involving five other Rutgers football players. Laviano was instead arrested for using a fake I.D. in a separate incident.