The disturbing series of emails sent out over the past few months describing crimes such as carjackings, muggings and even rapes and abductions illustrate a terrifying trend of increased crime both on campus and in the surrounding area.
Although the greater Atlanta area has always been a potentially dangerous environment, until recently Tech campus was a relatively isolated bubble. The recent increase in Atlanta crime has destroyed that illusion, and it is the responsibility of all campus members to ensure the continued safety of students, faculty and visitors to Tech.
The Georgia Tech Police Department has done an admirable job controlling crime on campus, as is evidenced by the fact that crime is contained to fringe areas off of campus such as Homepark or the area of campus bordered by Northside Drive. Many campus services are working diligently to ensure campus safety, such as the extension of Stingerette services for late-night transportation as well as the continuation of the annual campus safety walks.
Unfortunately, in light of the high rate of violent crime perpetuated against students and visitors to campus, more serious measures might need to be taken. The campus safety walk this year was too focused on East Campus, marginalizing the safety concerns around Tenth Street, where much of the recent violence has occurred. While obviously administrators are busy, and it is not expected for them to walk around campus looking for missed light bulbs, GTPD officers and campus leaders such as SGA should make every effort to include all of campus in their safety evaluations.
There are also certain campus policies that could be revisited, such as game-day parking practices. Moving student’s cars to satellite lots and leaving parking gates up does nothing to help protect student’s cars, nor the students who have to walk to and from remote parking areas. Also, GTPD should make every effort to work with the Atlanta police department to help minimize the risks posed by the downtown environment of our campus. For example, the Homepark neighborhood should be more integrated into campus security concerns, as much of the violent crime has occurred on the Homepark/Tenth Street boundary and many Tech students live in the neighborhood.
Students on campus are still privileged with a safe environment while they attend school, but this safety is going to take increasing efforts on the part of both students and administrators.
Students should be aware of the safety amenities provided on campus. Students should learn the locations of the emergency blue-light phones, and keep the Stingerette and GTPD numbers on hand in case of emergency.