Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Advertisement
Email Newsletter

Sign up to receive our email newsletter in your inbox.



Advertisement

Advertisement

Community effort needed to ensure safety (Editorial)

Crimes against Northwestern students are happening so frequently that it’s hard to remember how shocked we should be each time we hear about one. Most recently a female graduate student was attacked while walking on the 600 block of Clark Street around 2 a.m. Saturday. Her front teeth were knocked out and she had to get stitches on her upper lip and chin. Then, early Sunday morning, a male student was attacked and robbed on the 600 block of Foster Street.

These assaults have intensified students’ fears about safety both on and off campus — especially because the time and area of some of the attacks are presumed safe. The Clark Street attack happened near Burger King at 2 a.m. on a Saturday. The area is not only well-lit but also usually flooded with students. The motive is also confusing, because the victim went home with a mangled face — and her identification and credit cards, too. The obvious question, which probably has plagued her, too, is why the assault happened at all.

The truth is there is no reason why. Bad, unfair, violent acts happen. But that doesn’t negate the fact that they have been happening too frequently at and around NU this quarter. It also doesn’t negate the power of students, administrators and the city of Evanston to take action against them.

Since University Police expanded its jurisdiction further off campus, it has maintained that its goal is to combat problems such as loud parties and drunken shenanigans, while augmenting student safety. Although many students have argued that curbing parties has taken priority over safety concerns, the debate seems moot now. Whatever their original intent, UP must now focus its efforts, both on campus and in the new jurisdiction, principally on safety for students and the community as a whole. Finding the guy who threw up in an Evanston resident’s lawn seems insignificant and, frankly, insulting in the wake of these attacks. UP’s energies should reflect this.

Evanston City Council and residents also have a responsibility to respond appropriately to these attacks — because many of them are happening on their streets and in their neighborhoods. The aldermen who represent the First, Seventh and even Fifth wards need to take action to protect students the same as they would protect any other constituent. If an Evanston resident were shoved down and had his wallet stolen, or had her teeth knocked out, the outcry would be overwhelming. Residents likely would storm City Council meetings, and the aldermen would respond swiftly and thoroughly — just as they should now. The randomness of these attacks indicates that next week the victim could very well be a nonstudent.

History has shown that crime often occurs in bursts and then dies down. In the past Ald. Arthur Newman (1st) responded to crime waves by attending Associated Student Government meetings and pledging to support safety measures like increased lighting. But students need him and the city’s other aldermen now, and they need more than just lip service. And when attacks are happening on the well-lit 600 block of Clark Street, lighting is clearly not the only problem. The council must also continue to be vigilant later, when crime has waned and the waters are calm.

But above all else, students are responsible for not allowing themselves to be victimized. The repeated precautions about not walking alone and taking the shuttle service might seem cliched — or even pointless — but they’re still necessary. Other schools use “buddy systems” that pair students so someone is always watching out for someone else. NU students need to watch each other’s backs in the same way. ASG should also be proactive in fostering these relationships.

Nonstudent residents, do your part, too: Leave your porch lights on to help guide us home.

These assaults have left NU students feeling frightened and helpless — and rightfully so. But by working together, NU and the city can ensure they both stay safe.

More to Discover
Activate Search
Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881
Community effort needed to ensure safety (Editorial)