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From the Daily: Illuminating safety

BY THE MICHIGAN DAILY

Published January 26, 2011

While it’s no Detroit, it’s no secret that Ann Arbor hasn’t exactly felt like the safest place lately. With a recent uptick in crime, students and parents are concerned about the safety of those who find themselves walking around Ann Arbor after dark. Members of the University’s Department of Public Safety and Ann Arbor Police Department have tried to address these issues by increasing their patrol and holding informational panels. But more can be done to ensure the well-being of all Ann Arbor residents. The city of Ann Arbor needs to look into lighting concerns, the University needs to educate students about safety initiatives and students need to do their best to protect themselves.

With two armed robberies in the past two months, there's been growing concern about the overall safety around campus. On Tuesday, campus leaders met with members of DPS and AAPD to talk about what's being done to ensure that proper precautions are taken to protect students and Ann Arbor residents, according to a Jan. 26 Daily article. Also discussed was the issue of the ill-lit neighborhoods in the Oxford Housing area that are particularly prone to crime. At the meeting, Jim Kosteva, the University’s director of community relations, stressed that new lights would be costly for the city.

The most important, and obvious, fix for these areas is to install additional lighting. If streets near Oxford are better lit throughout the night, residents will be able to see more of their surroundings and other pedestrians. While the moratorium on additional street light is “directly financial,” according to Kosteva, the city should figure out how to produce the money. And charging individuals in the area for additional lighting isn’t an appropriate option. Safety isn’t a service for residents, it's a necessity.

With students’ presence on campus constantly fluctuating, it’s difficult for them to be aware of all of the specifics of Ann Arbor. But it’s crucial that students — especially incoming freshmen — are informed of safety concerns and protocol on campus. They need to be educated about what resources are at their disposal and how to respond to emergency situations. This information is available on the University website. But in light of the recent string of crimes, the University should e-mail safety information to students and post information in all academic buildings.

While it’s important that students are made aware of how to ensure their personal safety, it’s equally necessary that they take precautions to protect themselves. All students should use ride services at night, be cautious when walking in ill-lit areas and trust their instincts by seeking help when they need it. It may seem tedious to students to adhere to every safety precaution, but it’s irresponsible to not use the free or inexpensive resources at their disposal.

Crime is an unfortunate reality, but it shouldn’t stop students from going about their lives. With increased education and awareness, students will be able to ensure their personal safety.