EDITORIAL: U. must do more to prevent crime
RUPD said trend is declining, but opposite seems true
On May 4 of last year, a man sexually assaulted a female Rutgers student after dragging her to a less visible area. When a group of people intervened in the heinous act, the perpetrator began to run, warning them that if they chased him, he would shoot them. On Dec. 4, that man, Michael P. Knight, admitted to the crime and was convicted of kidnapping and aggravated sexual assault. The original charges additionally included aggravated assault, aggravated sexual contact, making terroristic threats and endangering the injured victim. He will spend 22 years in prison. This incident sounds like something plucked straight from a horror film, but it happened in an area commonly occupied by students — Seminary Place, a direct offshoot of College Avenue next to Voorhees Mall.
In October of this semester alone, five violent crimes have been reported to have happened on the College Avenue campus, including an incident of criminal sexual contact in Mettler Hall, a student who was approached and physically assaulted by more than eight men on Bishop Place and a shooting outside of a fraternity house on Hamilton Street, where a young man was struck by a bullet in the shoulder. Despite the fact that Kenneth B. Cop, chief of the Rutgers University Police Department (RUPD), there has been a declining trend in serious crime as of late, it certainly does not feel that way. Additionally, there is no reason why the recent crimes are not possibly indications of a reversal of that decline. Regardless of the direction of the crime trend, the fact of the matter is that students often do not feel safe here in New Brunswick, and rightfully so.
The Rutgers University Student Assembly (RUSA) has pushed for increased lighting and more security cameras around the areas of the College Avenue campus that are more commonly dangerous — a very good start. These things can undoubtedly serve to deter crimes and help capture assailants, but more must be done. The Knight Shuttle, a free transportation service offered to Rutgers students who need to travel late at night, is a rarely discussed resource that, if utilized, has the ability to prevent future late-night attacks and robberies. The administration needs to make the student body more aware of this service and expand its use, maybe by adding a pick-up site to Easton Avenue, where many of the popular bars are located.
The College Avenue campus is subject to crime in areas not affiliated with the University. With the number of students competing to live in off-campus housing close to College Avenue, many are forced to live quite far away. Presumably, the farther away from College Avenue one goes, the more risky it is to walk around late at night, which some students who have night classes have no choice but to do. With that said, the University should work to increase the availability of on-campus housing and offer more incentives for students, especially upperclassmen, to live in housing provided by Rutgers. Students will be much safer if they are not forced to walk deep within off-campus New Brunswick late at night.
RUPD and the University should by no means minimize the significance of the sheer number of violent crimes reported this semester to a general declining trend. The campus is still not safe, and students deserve to walk around the town that they call home without fear of being attacked or robbed. More must continually be done to find out what the root cause of all of this crime is and what can be done to prevent it in the future, as well as to educate students on how to better protect themselves.
The Daily Targum's editorials represent the views of the majority of the 149th editorial board. Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.