No matter the size of the college campus or if its located in a rural or urban area, being safe should be the number one priority, according to experts. Universities and colleges invest a lot into keeping their students safe from putting up emergency blue phones to having late night shuttles running to pick someone up from the library, but some wonder if it’s enough.
Many schools invest thousands of dollars into hiring more police officers to putting cameras up. But the real question is what if you go to a school who doesn’t have the funds? For example, like a historically Black college or university.
Some colleges students in New Orleans believe the lack of campus safety measures may force them to transfer. Already New Orleans has a bad reputation for being one of the cities to have the highest murder rates.
According to neighborhoodscout.com, New Orleans was listed as number nine where they took in consideration the population of each city and the number of murders reported to the FBI. Last year there was 164 murders, 412 rape, 1,506 robberies and 1,671 assaulted.
Another question might come up is this a New Orleans problem or more of a campus police problem not doing their job correctly. Xavier University of Louisiana has a total of about 2,969 students where there were 4 complaints of aggravated assault in 2014 and nothing reported in 2015 according to ope.ed.gov. Other schools in the area like Tulane University has about 13,449 and Dillard University being 1,185 according to their websites. Anyone of these students can be a victim in a crime
Recently, this year Xavier students have been having more problems than expected. Lt. Morris A. Moore Sr., Crime Prevention Officer said that Xavier reportedly only has had two robberies this year. Robberies occur because of crime of opportunity.
Moore has been in law enforcement for 34 years and been working for Xavier for 14 years.When a robbery takes place on campus Xavier University Police Department takes appropriate measures based on the information provided by the victim or witnesses. XUPD notifies Xavier students of the incident with an alert as soon as possible, he said.
“Closed campuses are easier to secure. However, we have the manpower to secure this campus and our record shows it,” Moore said.
Chandler Rigby, a freshman Sociology Pre-med, got into an altercation on April 13 around 11 p.m. Rigby was leaving his dormitory St Michael’s and was walking over to the other side of campus where St. Martin Deporres is.
Rigby took the Drexel Drive route through the neighborhood and when he walked further down something seemed off.
“I was approached by a man who sort of flashes but also implies a weapon that he has, all I saw was a handle of something,” said Rigby
The man was wearing a cap, white shirt, and black pants who could be in his late 30s or early 40s and felt that he seen his face before.
“He then demanded my phone and backpack which had my lap top in it then as I was putting my backpack down my watch flashes in the light and he then demanded my watch then for my keys,” he said. The suspect told Rigby to turn around and walk into the grass and the man grabbed his items.
Rigby is in middle of campus where there are no emergency blue phones and its “barley lit anyways.”
Once he turned around, the suspect was running down Telemachus Street and Rigby assumed he crossed the Canal.
“I continued to walk down to St Martin Depporres and I told the lady at the front desk to call XUPD,” he said.
“They came in about 15 to 20 minutes, very convenient”
Once XUPD arrived to the scene they contacted The New Orleans Police Department where their assistance was more helpful according to Rigby.
“They acted a little bit more, they used find my I Phone and actually went out and looked [at the scene]and told me to look into a conceal weapon permit,” he said.
When asked for Rigby to explain where there are emergency blue phones on campus he stated “we have those?”
Rigby feels that XUPD has to do better as a department to protect and serve the Xavier community. “The last two nights they were actually patrolling, how they should have been patrolling the whole school year,” he said
“There was actually an assault right before I got robbed, so that’s my whole point is the fact that someone got robbed before I got robbed in the same day.”
But Rigby also thinks that it’s not only XUPD being the problem but the administrator’s tone on the recent assaults. “There needs to be an overall seriousness about the topic, talking with some of the administrators they kind of just were …a good synopsis of what they were saying is that ‘this is New Orleans you knew what you were getting into coming here,’” he said.
“I don’t remember reading this in the brochure or the pamphlets you gave me, I remember you telling my parents that I was safe here and that there’s nothing to worry about.”
Since, Xavier is an open campus and located in the middle of a neighbor it’s been difficult to secure the perimeters. “They let anything and anyone walk through this campus,” Rigby said.
Many outsiders that come on to Xavier’s campus who come and hang out don’t see it as college but a bunch of buildings, he said.
“When you go to University of Maryland you’re going to see a cop at every corner, they’re going to be patrolling, they’re going to be walking, we actually have a bike patrol, a foot patrol and car patrol,” Rigby said.
“Here at Xavier we have dorm hall patrol, I see the cops more in the dorms chilling sitting down and talking it up.”
Kayla Hicks, a freshman phycology pre-med, who attends Dillard where it is a historically Black university also has been seeing issues on their closed campus.
Hicks for her first year hasn’t seen many problems but knows Dillard University Police Department can also improve. Although they are a closed campus, problems can still arise from outsiders, she said.
“Somebody followed someone else on campus and got into an altercation and fought them,” Hicks said.
“Because of that one of our gates has a time zone where its open for certain times.”
The gate is opened around 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. and after that the rest of the Dillard students and visitors must proceed through the main gate.
Hicks noticed that implementing this new rule is not affective since they are not ID checking at all at the second gate and barley checking at the main gate.
“Sometimes if they don’t know you or you don’t have a student ID then they will ask for your license and sometimes they will just let you pass,” she said. Hicks has seen DUPD let people come in without checking during events on campus.
“They will scan the license and get your license plate number so if something would have happened they can identify the person and send out an email.”
One of the problems with this method is that DUPD doesn’t keep track of who is leaving the campus.
Although security is not the best, Hicks still feels safe at Dillard. “Being at home not everyone has security so anybody can just pull in your driveway,” she said “It’s a close off campus to a certain extent.” Dillard’s emergency phone polls were being worked on for most of the year, she said.
Natalie Faciane, a resident assistant at Xavier attended a program earlier this month called “ Right the Wrongs Together: Bridging the Gap Between the Black Community and Police.” XUPD and NOPD was in attendance answering questions from the concerned students.
“In light what has been going as far as police brutality especially affecting the black community there’s been a strain as far as our relationship,” Faciane said. The event was to spark a conversation and talk about violence being the answer and how to communicate effectively. “Police are intimidated by the black community and the black community is intimidated by the police,” she said.
Faciane has had many encounters with XUPD and every time results in a negative tone coming from the officer.
“My relationship with XUPD has never been a pleasant one… they are bending the law of the university” she said.
In the beginning of the semester Faciane was out of town for a few days and when she came back she thought her car was stolen. She contacted XUPD first to see if they towed her car but informed her that they couldn’t do that because the street is city property.
“I then called the city and they told me they never came on Xavier’s campus,” she said. At this point Faciane was nervous and started looking on campus for her car and suddenly spotted her vehicle.
“XUPD lied to me and said why didn’t you give a description of my car but they didn’t even go that far, it’s not that I didn’t want to you addressed me on the phone like a child saying I don’t know what I’m talking about,” she said. Faciane noticed her car was tampered inside from her seat being moved and wires coming out.
“Overall what’s been going on campus, I really took the police side as far as the robberies, I feel like nothing happens on campus but when it does were blaming the police and some of them are freak accidents,” Faciane said.
While Faciane said the purpose of XUPD coming into the dormitories is to build those relationships and make the students feel comfortable to come talk to them when there is an issue.
Faciane recall a situation last year concerning the emergency polls. “The emergency polls don’t work,” she said.
“But when it was working it was kind of inefficient, I guess it was a scenario that they didn’t think of, a girl ended up passing out but she hit the button, the camera is so high so it can’t see on the ground,” she said “So they thought someone hit it for fun.”
Down the street from Xavier is Tulane University and many people think everything is okay on that part of town. Angel Carter, a Cell and Molecular Biology and Anthropology a sophomore, at Tulane says otherwise.
For Carter experience at Tulane she has noticed a lot of the incidents happened off campus that becomes a safety issue. TUPD extends the radius of one mile off campus in all directions where a Tulane student is involved. “TUPD will send out a mass email to everyone saying what the incident is, where and how it happened and the description of the perpetrator,” she said.
“The messages come out in a timely fashion but most of the time I’m like wait why am I just now getting this if it happened two days ago.”
It seems that TUPD picks and chooses what they want to inform the student body, she said. “Something as simple to a person that’s getting robbed by a car and not seeing the person may not be as important to TUPD as someone who goes through a carjacking and has ID of the suspect,” she said.
Last year a girl was robbed at the ATM in Lavin-Bernick Center which is the main part of Tulane’s campus where the student union is located. Carter was surprised that this happened on a well- known lit area on campus.
Carter is from Atlanta and when choosing a school she was well aware that Tulane was in New Orleans but didn’t have that be one of her decision makers.
“Everyone has its reputation that uptown New Orleans is far away from downtown, that uptown is prissy and nothing ever happens,” she said
Shalani Taylor, a junior Public Health Science major, at Xavier also didn’t think she could be a victim. Earlier this semester Taylor was coming back late from the library and had to park her car further away from her dorm in the parking lot since there wasn’t a lot of spaces left.
“Thursday morning I got a call from campus police and I’m thinking that there calling the wrong number so I didn’t answer it,” Taylor said.
XUPD called her again later on in the day and Taylor answered this time, XUPD notified her that there was a problem. “They said we have a problem with your car and you need to come downstairs and I was like what and they said you need to put on your clothes and come downstairs, there’s a problem with your car” she said.
Taylor recently just got into a car accident and assumed it was related to that situation but once she got outside she walked into a whole new headache. “I got outside and there was me and two other girls and found out someone took off our rims and tires,” she said. “I was appalled, who takes tires, at first I was upset at the whole thing but then I started asking them how does this happened… to three different cars.”
The biggest question is why did it take so long for XUPD to notify her, when they should have seen that in the middle of the night.
Even though Taylor was parked in the school parking lot, Xavier did not refund her and had to pay out of pocket to get new tires.
Since the robbery Taylor has been a bit more cautious around her surroundings. “I’m like paranoid now when I come back from the library or how far I should park if I don’t have a close parking spot,” she said.
Taylor also realized that there should be more officers on duty at night. “I always see one car but not multiple cars, not one person is going to see everything,” she said. “Also, it might be expensive but cameras, camera tells it all.”
“I’m not the type to bash my school, I don’t hate them or anything…every school has things they need to improve on so clearly ours is security,” she said