Shooting raises campus safety concerns

The college bubble was shattered for many students in the city of Atlanta when a string of major crimes occurred within the past few weeks at both Tech and nearby Georgia State, reiterating the priority of on-campus and off-campus safety for student.

On the night of May 4, three men with guns approached Patrick Whaley ME ‘09 at the Tivoli Tenside Apartments near campus. After robbing him and a nearby couple at the apartments, the suspects shot Whaley in the chest and drove away.

Whaley described the suspects as being three black men in their 20’s.

On the following night, three men approached Carsten Sing, a student at Georgia State, on Northside Drive. After being forced into their van, he rode with the men around midtown Atlanta for approximately 45 minutes.

The men took Singh’s ATM information, dropped him in the West End area and then shot him in the leg. When found and questioned, Singh described the suspects as three black men in their 20’s.

There are currently investigations pending to figure out if these crimes are related due to the short time between them, the nature of the crime and the description of the suspects.

Though the crimes of this magnitude are rather exceptional at both campuses, the occurrence of petty campus crimes is not.

Information gathered from the Tech police’s website revealed that there were three recorded incidents of robbery, 14 incidents of burglary and 153 incidents of larceny theft within the time span of January-March 2009 alone.

Georgia State, boasting the largest on-campus police force in Georgia, is no stranger to crime on campus. Looking at Georgia State’s record from the year of 2006, their numerable offenses included six reported incidents of simple assault, eight incidents of possession of stolen property and 427 incidents of theft.

But with campuses that are open to the general public as well as being inside of an area with a high crime rate, Tech and State students cannot afford remaining ignorant about their surroundings anymore.

“I’ve never felt unsafe on campus,” said Lesley Finch, third-year MGT.

“I’ve never been scared or nervous. I have complete faith in the campus police, and I think they do a great job,” Finch said.

Safety on campus can be achieved by making certain adjustments to one’s campus life. In residence halls, it is always good to lock your doors behind you.

Crimes such as theft can happen within a small window of time, so it is good to use your locks no matter how long the absence.

Also within residence halls, having a very wary eye for suspicious guests can make a world of difference.

Be cautious about who you let into your residence halls, especially if you do not know or recognize the person. It is better to avoid letting people in because you reduce the risk of putting you and your fellow residents in a compromising position.

A common practice for students is to leave possessions such as laptops, MP3 players and cell phones unattended in public places like the library or the Student Center. To prevent theft of these valuables always either hide them or keep them on your person when you have to leave your area. This goes for keeping valuable possessions in your car, as well.

Walking around campus after dark should always be done with caution.

When coming home from late nights at the library, staying in well-lit areas nearer to the center of campus reduces the risk of assault, and walking with friends at this time makes it all the more safer. Utilize campus resources and get a ride from the Stingerette if your study sessions run late into the night.

When walking, try to always face traffic. Carry as few items as possible and have your keys ready when walking towards your car.

When leaving your car, always lock the doors and roll up all the windows. Keep a description of your car and the tag number in your wallet and at home. Park in well-lit areas and don’t leave your car unattended for very long. To be extra cautious, install a security system such as a steering column lock. As a final precaution, avoid leaving important identification papers, laptops, credit cards or large amounts of money in your car.

Register your bicycle, free, with the police department, engrave it with an owner identification number and lock it with a U-shaped lock.

When you are walking through campus it is best to stay alert, avoiding using cell phones, iPods or any devices that will reduce your awareness of the surroundings.

Tech’s police website, police.gatech.edu offers these safety tips and more, as well as other ways to stay safe on campus.