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Recent Crime Near Campus Makes Students Worried, Nervous

University of Michigan-Flint

University of Michigan-Flint

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This past week was an eventful one for downtown and campus police. On Thursday, Nov. 28 a UM-Flint student fell victim to an armed robbery. According to a campus-wide email, two men approached the student near the State of Michigan building just under the Harrison St. bridge while the student was smoking.

One of the robbers struck the student and both took some of the student’s belongings. Shortly after, five arrests were made, according to an article from ABC 12 news. Three days later, a 31-year-old victim was shot to death at the Mass Transportation Authority (MTA) bus stop downtown, according to an MLive article.

The incidents occurred less than half a mile apart and have left students with concerns regarding the safety of campus, even if these crimes occurred off of it. And, while the university immediately sends out a crime alert email after each incident, some students are not reassured.

Sophomore Lauren Greschaw says she was with her friend, Nicole Peterson, who is also a student at UM-Flint, at the William S. White building when the armed robbery occurred. They both received a notification on Facebook about the incident.

“It was scary because after that I had to go back to my car two blocks from the scene. It’s not like this where I come from so I was worried to be in the area,” said Greschaw. “We leave the keys in our cars (in the city I live in) and don’t check over our shoulders if we’re out at night. I think the biggest crime was stolen beer from the gas station…Even with people (on campus) I’m scared. Like why can’t I walk to my car without worry?”

Junior Patrick Hairston, a Flint resident and student at the university, says he chooses not to use the MTA buses for safety concerns.

“I personally have never used MTA because it’s location in Flint,” said Hairston. “Even before this incident I have been skeptical of using any Flint public transportation.”

Student Taylor Grabow also shared concerns.

“We’re told during our orientation that campus is a safe place and then there’s a mugging on campus earlier this week and now the shooting. I’m terrified to walk on campus alone,” said Grabow. “It honestly makes me want to switch to a different university. I shouldn’t have to be scared to go to class.”

The Department of Public Safety (DPS) Police Chief Raymond Hall has heard many student concerns and takes them very seriously. He believes one of the most important ways to keep campus safe is to communicate with DPS.

“One crime is one too many, however, we can say we have very few crimes here on campus,” said Hall.

If there is any sort of criminal activity that might be of interest to students, DPS immediately sends out an alert. Hall understands that while such emails might cause unrest, it is vital that the community stays informed.

“It takes open, honest, and ongoing communication,” said Hall. “We can’t do this without our students, faculty, and staff. It takes all of us together.”

While chatting, Hall drove me around campus and the surrounding downtown area. He pointed out several of the over 88 blue light systems at UM-Flint.
“We strategically position these blue phones so anywhere on campus, if you do a 360 degree turn, you can spot one,” said Hall.
These bright blue light towers are phones that connect directly to a DPS dispatcher. If students have any issues, Hall urges them to use the phones, even when regarding issues that do not pertain to suspicious activity.
“If your car battery is dead, or you have a flat tire and its freezing out, we want you to use the blue phones,” said Hall.

The newest light, which is on the corner of First Street and Stevens Street, now has a security camera above it. The goal is to eventually get all of the blue phones to have this feature, according to Hall. During the interview, Hall also pointed out several patrol cars that keep watch over downtown. One located in front of the University Pavilion next to the ice rink, and the other near Riverfront on Saginaw Street, where it is parked frequently.

“We want to be highly visible. The only thing we want students to be concerned about this time of year is getting an ‘A’ on their exam,” said Hall. “The numbers don’t mean anything if students don’t feel safe.”

For specific information about crime on campus and how it’s handled, students may reference the annual Security Report and Fire Safety Report, which gets published on the first of October each year. According to the UM-Flint website, “DPS publishes this report to inform the UM-Flint community about campus security policies, initiatives to prevent and respond to crime and emergencies, and the occurrence of crime on campus.”

Each year at new student orientation, a campus police officer goes over the report with prospective students, and reviews safety tips. This report can be found at www.umflint.edu/safety/statistics.html.

“We have something very unique here. Although we would like to, the Department of Public Safety can’t take credit for our safe campus. The credit really goes to our students,” said Hall. “We have students from all of the world, all over the country, state, and region. When they get to this campus, despite their differences, everyone has each other’s backs.”

2 Comments

2 Responses to “Recent Crime Near Campus Makes Students Worried, Nervous”

  1. Frank Conrad on December 8th, 2017 9:53 am

    I feel unsafe because mental ill homeless people are allowed to sleep in the buildings and run around the campus unchecked. Talking to themselves etc. also the library is infested with bed bugs with have now been carried back to my home before the annocment was even made about the infestion

    [Reply]

  2. Peter Conigliaro on December 11th, 2017 1:30 am

    It started out with having no where to park. Very frustrating, very annoying, but not the end of the world. Then you started seeing more homeless people. Whatever, it’s Flint, it happens. But then some of those homeless people start harassing you for money, or harassing you while you’re on your way to your car calling you “honey”.
    Now, this.
    These factors have been accumulating on top of one another for this entire semester, and I only just thought to myself while I was out in the school parking lot at 10 o’clock one night: “Where the Hell is Public Safety?”
    I’m a senior at U of M – Flint as of this year, and in all my time here, I’ve never felt less of a presence from Public Safety than I have this term, and I think that a lot of the negative experiences students have had this Fall can be connected to that. I’m not sure why the number of officers and their hours have been reduced so drastically, but there is no good reason for it regardless.
    Students who pay anywhere from 6 to 12 grand per semester shouldn’t be afraid to go to the classes that they’re paying so much for.

    [Reply]

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