EDITORIAL: Be proactive about safety

Most Marquette students were not expecting to arrive on campus this August and immediately see their e-mail inboxes flooded with reports of students getting mugged.

Student responses have been both numerous and varied, ranging from the serious, (debates about the merits of concealed carry laws on campus), to the frivolous (a Facebook page called “Gettin’ Robbed: Part of the Marquette Experience,” which accumulated nearly a thousand members in one night).

But it’s not just students who are making statements.

College of Communication students received an e-mail Wednesday about a change in access to the Wakerly computer lab “due to recent activity on campus.”

DPS left safety tips in residence hall mailboxes.

Marquette’s official Twitter account began requesting ideas on how to further improve safety on campus and reminded students to “look out for each other.”

During these times, we suggest that students heed this advice and be proactive about their own safety.

Marquette has made it clear that our safety is of utmost concern to the university. The public nature of MU’s tweets indicates that the university is not interested in downplaying these incidents and is more concerned with tangibly improving security.

DPS and MPD have been patrolling campus and the surrounding areas in noticeably heavier forces. A new LIMO service called LIMO Scout has been added specifically to find students walking alone at night and offer them a ride, directly addressing the fact that most of the muggers have targeted students walking by themselves.

This does not mean that these services are perfect. LIMOs are notorious for taking a long time. Students will often have to wait as long as 10 to 15 minutes for a van to arrive at their location, only to take off in the opposite direction of their destination. And while a student escort system exists alongside LIMOs, the program may as well be nonexistent based on the number of students who actually use it.

For these reasons, we suggest a re-evaluation of the efficiency of LIMOs. Perhaps adding more LIMO Express vans patrolling a continuous circuit could contribute to a solution, or just increasing the number of regular LIMO vans available on a given night.

But we must give credit where credit is due. Many schools similar to Marquette offer nothing or nearly nothing in the way of transportation safety.

College Prowler, a review of colleges by students, gave Marquette an “A” for transportation, the highest grade given for any aspect of MU student life. Our LIMOs operate 365 days a year from 5 p.m. to 3 a.m. on weeknights and 4 a.m. on weekends. After these hours, students can call DPS for a ride until 7 a.m.

We must also acknowledge that the increase in muggings shouldn’t be attributed to a lack of effort on the part of DPS. So many reports in a short period is a rarity for Marquette, and since those robberies, there has been a visible increase in the number of MPD and DPS officers on patrol, especially at night and in early mornings, including mounted horse patrols. DPS is also conducting a survey of off-campus areas “where cameras could be mounted in high-traffic alleys off-campus.”

While crime overall in Milwaukee may have been down 12 percent in the first six months of 2011 compared to the same period last year, robbery and juvenile robbery has risen 5 to 12 percent in the last year, according to WISN News.

This is also not a problem exclusive to Marquette. According to a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article, there were 12 armed robberies late at night during August, nine occurring near University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and three near Marquette.

The article quotes police supervisor Lt. Ray Gibbs as saying that criminals seem to target people who seem drunk or oblivious to their surroundings.

“Don’t go out and get sauced to the point where you have ‘victim’ written on you,” he warned.

This is obviously not a problem in every instance — the most recent robbery occurred at 3:50 p.m. on a Wednesday.

Nevertheless, we advise students to take advantage of the services offered to them and to not think themselves invincible, especially when alcohol is involved. If walking, note where the closest blue light phones are, whether you feel threatened or not. Do not become distracted by talking on a phone.

And watch out for each other, too. Don’t leave your drunk roommate at a party full of strangers when you know he or she will probably choose to walk home afterward. If you spot someone walking alone, offer to walk with that person or call him or her a LIMO.

We also strongly advise against choosing to fight back in the event of a mugging. While two of the victims near MU’s campus succeeded in escaping, not everyone is guaranteed to be so lucky. Last month, a pregnant mother of seven was shot and killed for refusing to give up her purse near 37th Street and Lisbon Avenue. She was carrying a computer and business contacts for the companies she worked for.

Nothing — not a laptop, not a cell phone, not cash — is worth a lost life.

It is not a sign of cowardice or fear to call for a LIMO or a DPS car instead of walking home alone at night. It simply shows that a student does not want to end up listed as “the victim” on the next DPS email.