The last few years have seen the midpoint of the fall semester coincide with off-campus muggings. It’s almost commonplace for us students, from the heightened security to the broadcast e-mails with safety tips that blast out to our inboxes following an incident.
Most unfortunate (other than the victims themselves) is the stereotype that the muggings create about Seton Hall. All it takes is a short wave of muggings to lead association of the university with Newark or East Orange and their historically-high crime rates.
As expected, the university steps up with the logical measures to deter crime.
Public Safety and Securitas members appear around the campus a bit more, while the South Orange Police Department officers that guard the university at night patrol near the exit gates.
But there is only so much the university can do, notably with budget cuts for this fiscal year hitting many departments campus-wide. That’s when we, as students, need to take the next step.
It’s rather simplistic to find a friend or roommate to walk with when leaving campus, but so many of the muggings occur with students traveling alone.
Seton Hall is located within short distance of enough North Jersey cities to garner an urban, city-like mentality for its students. Simply put, we should all assume that at any hour, of the day or night, there will probably be other people walking around.
It’s a good safety practice to learn traveling in groups – especially if you’re carrying a laptop, iPod or other valuables between the campus and your destination.
However, the practice of these common sense tips may not be enough. It’s probably time for us students to also directly contribute in the protection of our campus community in some way.
The idea of a “neighborhood watch group” should be the initial attempt. Many students live together in houses within walking distance, and they should be concerned about safety for themselves and their fellow students.
By keeping a watchful eye during assigned nights on a volunteer basis – contacting the local police in the event of something suspicious – some criminals may be deterred.
Even individuals who live near the campus and aren’t students, such as alumni or concerned village residents, may volunteer their time to help.
There are enough people in South Orange who care about the university and want to get involved with Seton Hall in some way. Helping to enforce safety near the campus can be their perfect outlet.
Having neighborhood watchers may seem too farfetched for some, but at least it’s a proactive suggestion from the student perspective.
This is our idea to get the conversation going on what students can do to making these muggings, and the stereotype of South Orange as “dangerous at night,” begin to fade away.
After all, we’re adults, too, and we cannot just rely on campus-hired security or administrative messages to protect us anymore.