As Bruins, we can each come up with a long list of reasons why we chose to attend UCLA over other schools, especially that one school across town. Next to cost of tuition ““ even though recent increases have narrowed the gap in choosing UCLA over other schools ““ campus safety should be high on the list. That is, if we pretend the five assaults in March didn’t happen.
Westwood’s structure and business development provide UCLA with a safety zone that other schools lack. But the fact that five assaults occurred on and around campus in a single month signals that UCLA cannot simply rely on the surrounding area for protection.
Although university police responds to calls and patrols the campus, the high frequency of recent assaults indicates that UCLA needs to step up campus security. Especially with the increases in tuition, UCLA should budget more funds toward security in order to maintain its reputation as a safe campus.
While UCPD has successfully apprehended one suspect for the recent rape attempt, it’s more prudent and effective to take measures to prevent crime from taking place to begin with rather than trying to make amends for an occurrence after the fact.
I agree that safety starts with students themselves, but there are limits to how well individuals can protect themselves. Yes, students should not walk alone late at night and should take more precautions before stepping out of the safety of their dorm rooms at late hours.
But in the most recent case of assault at UCLA, the female student walked out on Delta Terrace to use her cell phone. For whatever reason, she felt the need to use her phone at 3:25 a.m. But simply walking out of one’s dorm and still being on university grounds should not warrant the possibility of getting attacked.
In three other separate instances in March, women were assaulted in an attempted rape and groping incidents, all of which occurred in broad daylight and at points during the day considered relatively safe.
Had there been security guards visibly stationed at the areas even for the attacks that occurred during daylight, perhaps the assaults may not have occurred.
According to Nancy Greenstein, UCLA’s director of the Police Community Service Bureau, “The UCLA Police Department consists of 62 sworn officers who use bikes, patrol cars and at night check inside buildings.”
The UCPD Web site also states that 46 civilians and 130 students help patrol anywhere from the main campus to university apartment housing to adjacent residential communities. Although the range of areas patrolled is well-mapped, the five cases in March prove that more patrolling and more officers are needed.
Greenstein further explained that there are security cameras and guards stationed inside residential halls, around hospitals and museums, and patrols around the community. While she stresses that campus safety is “mostly incumbent on students taking responsibility for their safety,” she also agrees that extra precautions can be taken.
“The issue is that we’re a public university, and we can’t stop unknown people on campus. We look at statistics and use that to direct patrol. But you might put out extra patrol to show that we’re taking care of a certain area,” she said.
Tuition costs do not only fund academic purposes. Along with campus maintenance in terms of cleanliness and organization, security is a large part of what we pay for as students. Although I could not reach UCPD in time to determine budget allotments for the department, the fact that tuition has increased should allow some increases in security.
In light of these incidents, UCLA should provide more funding for extra patrol officers and even security cameras in more corners of the campus. More than that, UCLA should be stationing visible security guards around the most visited areas of campus, particularly the dorms and parking structures to which students and non-students alike have access.
UCLA is a large campus with open doors, literally speaking. As a campus, we have very few locked-down areas. Unlike USC, our campus is not gated in a circular pattern. But while our campus appears more welcoming and hospitable in this sense, we are also welcoming more danger to lurk on campus grounds.
While we should always be on alert to take care of ourselves and others, we shouldn’t have to look behind us every five minutes.