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The Collegian News Blog

Do students feel safe at UMass?

Saturday, February 23, 2008

In light of the recent string of violent incidents on the UMass campus, which came to widespread attention through a front-page Boston Globe article on Thursday, how are students feeling?

Alumna Katherine Ross '03 was embarrassed by the violence and urged UMass students to clean up their act in a letter she wrote to the Boston Globe. And dozens of people have shared their thoughts at this boston.com discussion board.

But some current students don't think the incidents are representative of the university climate.

Senior Dhara Marek, a resident assistant in Kennedy dorm in Southwest, says the violence is not representative of UMass.

"From my personal experience, I’ve never felt scared. I’ve walked around campus at midnight before," she said. "I would say UMass is a safe campus and that security and police do a good job of making students feel comfortable."

However, incidents like this make her "a little nervous."

"These incidents happening together in a very close time is definitely scary," she said.

Freshman Yair Schatz, who lives in Van Meter dorm in Central residential area, says he's not worried.

“I don’t feel unsafe on campus. Generally UMass is very safe," he said. "I think the incidents have been chance occurrences. I hope that it won’t happen again.”

Senior Eric Lamy, who lived in Southwest for two years, said he felt safe when he lived on campus.

“I never felt unsafe," he said. "That’s true whether I was at parties in Southwest or whether I was walking at two in the morning to my car and back.”

Violence at a large school, he says, is inevitable, but hardly representative.

“I think what’s happening recently is that it’s coming to the public consciousness a lot more," he said. "The fact that there were multiple instances in such a short period of time made it seem as though this is the general state on campus, rather than the exception to what is otherwise a pretty safe atmosphere.”

Does he feel safe now?

"Yeah, absolutely."

---

Most students may feel safe, but do the violent incidents reflect poorly on UMass?

Freshman Elizabeth Maynard doesn’t think the recent spate of violence is an accurate reflection of the university, but she thinks some students might think twice about coming here.

"If kids are coming here on tours and it [violence] is always on the front page of the Collegian that lacrosse players are arrested, that wouldn’t make me want to come here," she said.

Although Lamy thinks the incidents “reflect poorly on the school,” he doubts there has been any change in the number of people who plan to attend.

“I don’t think that because we were written down as being this violent campus that people suddenly stopped applying to UMass," he said. “[Violence] is on an individual basis – it has nothing to do with the culture of the school.”

But freshman Matt Stranberg is worried about what his degree will be worth. He thinks the incidents reflect "pretty badly" on UMass.

"This is just a blow to the reputation that we’ve worked so hard to improve over the years,” he said.

“Even if people view it as a high standard of education, the violence gives off a notion that it’s unorganized and poorly run, so the violence illegitimates its prestige among other universities.”

It's important to prevent more violence, students say, but Lamy said that increased police presence is not the answer.

“There’s a lot that’s hard to prevent in the first place without severely limiting other people’s freedoms,” he said.

“We could be out there spending all of the campus police’s time trying to pat down everyone who goes into a dorm room, or trying to install metal detectors,” he said. “But just trying to make it appear more safe is not going to do enough, in my estimation, to stop anyone who has the mind to commit a violent act.”

Tony Udell, a STPEC major who lives off-campus, says perhaps more public forums, like the one held last week by the Student Government Association and the Office of ALANA Affairs, will help.

“It’s better that you overanalyze the incidents than not,” he said. “Clearly there is a coarsening trend that we’ll have to come to grips with at some point… Maybe more public forums are the answer.”



What do you think? Leave a comment and let us know.
posted by Collegian Staff, 11:12 AM

3 Comments:

I think that public forums are really good to have and allow everyone a chance to talk about what they want to happen on this campus. It doesn't make us feel as helpless about the situation as we do now in regard to our image to everyone outside UMASS. I think that this school needs to set up a committee that students are allowed to come to about incidents on campus and how we can improve our future safety here.
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, February 23, 2008 at 7:43 PM  
one violent incident and you should be OUT
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, March 3, 2008 at 2:58 PM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, March 3, 2008 at 2:58 PM  

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