Sitting down at her desk studying chemistry, my friend recognized a sound she has heard over and over again growing up. The familiar sound of a gunshot. She grew up near a local gun range, but one of her experiences had nothing to do with a gun range.
This shot she heard came from the Uptown streets as an armed robber attempted to scare two college students who refused to hand over property outside her house.
This has not been the only major crime at Tulane. Last October, a young man sat down at a table in the Lavin-Bernick Center and held a Tulane student at gunpoint right in the heart of Tulane’s campus. This sparked deep fear across the Tulane Community. To address this recent crime, Tulane University Police Department tightened security on campus and hired two third-party firms, Landmark Security, and then Vinson Guard Service, as Tulane’s supplemental security. In a year with a seeming increase in crime, it is imperative that students, faculty, and staff understand ways to stay safe in the Tulane Community.
Last semester, a few classmates and I surveyed members of the Tulane community to research safety resource awareness. We wanted to discover which resources were offered by Tulane, and how many community members were actually aware of these services. We also attended a safety town hall on campus to help us identify the biggest problems with Tulane campus safety. We found that the biggest issue was a lack of awareness among staff and students in regard to the resources available to them.
In our survey, we asked community members to select form a list which of the available Tulane resources with which they were familiar. Almost 70% of people did not know that TUPD offered a Perimeter Patrol map, and almost 80% did not know Tulane offered an Online Comment/Report Form or Victim Resources. About 35% of members had never heard of Tulane’s Rave Guardian App or the Personal Safety Escort, and 20% did not know about the Tulane Gold Zone. These programs are the main resources offered by TUPD, and 20-35% of the Tulane Community still do not even know these services exist.
In 2015, New Orleans had 164 murders and almost 950 armed robberies. There have been four reported armed robberies committed against Tulane students (Uptown) in the spring semester of 2016. With record-high statistics, New Orleans residents have an obligation to be knowledgeable about safety, and the resources offered to help them stay safe. So why don’t they? It is likely that most community members fall victim to the familiar idea that it will never happen to them.
More than anything, our data shows that there is a major information gap between Tulane and its community members. How can people be safe if they do not take the proper steps to be so? What can be done about this?
I challenge the faculty, staff, and students of Tulane to step up. Do your research, and make a difference. Community members can find information about many of TUPD’s programs on their website. Find out about resources and information offered by Tulane Police, including Rave Guardian, personal safety escorts, the Online Comment/Report Form crime prevention tips, and more.
I would like to commend Tulane Police for offering these resources, as well as creating attempts to bridge the communication gap with efforts such as the Student Safety Committee within the Undergraduate Student Government.
As we know, creating resources is not enough, especially if citizens are not aware the resources are available. Upon looking at the social media accounts for TUPD, one finds zero to very little information about their offered services. In a day where citizens ages 10 to 90 are learning to use social media, the department is wasting a valuable opportunity to inform community members.
Know the resources, and share with your friends. Get rid of your invisible forcefield and realize that anything could happen to you at any time. Be prepared and be ready to use the available resources any time you may need them. This will lead to a more knowledgeable community, and safer, and thus happier environment.