Following several recent crimes in the Oxford Road area near campus, students feeling unsafe have decided to take action.
Because of three robberies over the course of the past four months, members of the Greek community at the University have developed a petition for improved street lighting in the area. At the same time, the Ann Arbor Police Department is further investigating the crimes.
Brian Jatczak, a sergeant in the AAPD’s Detective Bureau, said the involvement of two males in multiple robbery cases in the Oxford Road area may be related to the Oxford robberies. He added that the bureau is currently tracking stolen property and following up on leads from the most recent robbery, which was an armed robbery early in the morning on Jan. 18. Prior to this, two male suspects robbed two females at gunpoint late at night in December.
AAPD Sgt. Craig Flocken said while nothing has been confirmed in terms of evidence, AAPD has begun examining the possible link between the crimes.
LSA senior Katie Rosenberg, past president of the Panhellenic Association, wrote the proposal for the Lighting Initiative, which is a petition to the city of Ann Arbor for improved lighting in the Oxford Road area in response to the recent criminal activity.
“My goal is to use the petition as a student voice to show the people that matter that students are really upset about this and that they’re willing to do something about it,” Rosenberg said.
She added that members of the Greek community have been victims of the recent crimes.
“So far in the last two months, the robberies have been on Greek students, so I think there has been an initial outcry from the Greek community …” Rosenberg said. “Everyone is a little concerned, especially with the density of Greek houses that are in that area.”
While many Greek community members have signed the petition, Rosenberg said it has also received interest from other students and Ann Arbor residents, particularly those living in the Oxford area. Though there is no specific goal for a signature count, she said the petition is a way for the Greek community to unite and raise awareness about the issue.
“(The petition) really got the word out to a lot of people that the Greek community is interested in doing something about this as a group,” Rosenberg said. “I’ve had a lot of people contact me to get involved with working with the city and brainstorming ideas.”
As a result, Rosenberg said she plans to start a Greek housing safety committee composed of Greek life house managers and other members in the near future.
At the meetings, members would brainstorm ways to protect themselves and generate ideas for improving safety, Rosenberg said.
Public Policy junior Steve Zuckerman, a Public Policy representative for the Michigan Student Assembly and a member of Alpha Delta Phi fraternity located on South Forest, said when he heard about the Lighting Initiative, he brought the issue to MSA.
“My big thing with MSA is to address things that are a concern to the students, and clearly, this is a really strong concern,” Zuckerman said.
However, not all residents in the area see lighting as the main issue.
Billy Joe Evans, professor emeritus of chemistry at the University, has lived in the Oxford Road area near campus for the last 40 years. He said he and his wife aren’t concerned about the burglaries occurring in the area, and the lighting is not problematic for them.
“I think the lighting is fine,” Evans said.
He added that increase in crime may be attributed to nearby fraternity parties that “bring in bad elements” since the fraternities don’t monitor who comes into their houses.
Tom Bence, president of Delta Chi fraternity located at 1705 Hill St., said the house has been broken into twice during this academic year and since then, the residents have increased security measures.
“We have taken preventative actions like having better exterior doors, but the robberies have come through windows and during parties where people break into individuals’ rooms, so we find it hard to defend against that,” Bence said.
Bence said though the burglaries may have occurred because the residents were “distracted” while parties were going on, the crimes didn’t happen because there were unknown people in the house for a party.
“It’s as a result of us having a party, but it’s not the people that we invite into our house that are robbing us,” Bence said.
Flocken said students should travel in pairs when walking home, especially between the hours of 11 p.m. and 2 a.m., since this is the time when most of the crimes have occurred. However, many students say they have instead opted not to walk in the area at all when it’s dark outside.
LSA sophomore Alexander Capobianco, a member of Zeta Beta Tau fraternity located on Oxford Road, said most people he knows now takes cabs or find rides from others, adding that he doesn’t let friends walk home alone at night. The Zeta Beta Tau house has also added new locks to the doors and increased lighting around the outside of house.
LSA sophomore Kathleen Metz, president of the Delta Gamma sorority, also located on Oxford Road, said sorority members who live in the house have also been avoiding walking in the area at night.
“Pretty much every single girl in my house right now, after it gets dark outside, is afraid to walk home alone … and I’m pretty sure it’s the same for a lot of other sororities,” Metz said.