Over the past month, students have expressed growing concern regarding recent crimes in the Oxford Housing area. With two armed robberies since early December, we recognize that something must be done to improve safety at the University. As chair and vicechair of the Michigan Student Assembly Student Safety Commission, we aim to inform students of what measures have already been taken to prevent future incidents from occurring and to help students get involved in their own personal safety.
Since the start of this semester, we’ve sought meetings with administrative leaders responsible for student affairs and law enforcement in the University area. Through these conversations, we’ve learned that preliminary actions have been taken by the Department of Public Safety, Ann Arbor Police Department and Housing Security to deter future crime.
According to DPS Public Spokeswoman Diane Brown, DPS and AAPD “have been providing targeted police patrols of the area as well as surveillance efforts.” University Housing has also extended Oxford dining hours and has stationed an additional security officer at Oxford Housing from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. each day. To facilitate safer student travel on the weekends, Parking and Transportation Services has temporarily extended Oxford bus service from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
While these efforts take important steps toward improving safety at the University, there are also measures that students should personally consider when traveling alone or at night. As a start, use the buddy system — try to walk in groups of three or more, especially after dark — and stay on well-traveled, well-lit paths, even if they don’t provide the most direct route to your destination. It’s also critical to remain aware of your surroundings at all times. Attackers are looking for distracted individuals, so think twice before texting, talking on your phone or listening to music as you walk home. Finally, be sure to call a friend before you leave so that someone knows when to expect your arrival, and never hesitate to call the police if you feel unsafe or observe suspicious behavior.
As an alternative to walking, PTS and AATA provide a number of free or low-cost taxi services that are available to students throughout the night. S.A.F.E. WALK (734-763-9255) is a free ride-home program that transports students from anywhere on campus to a nearby off-campus location between the hours of 10 p.m. and 3 a.m. Ride Home (734-547-9800) is another free transportation resource that takes students from the UGLi, the Duderstadt Center or the Cancer Center on the Medical Campus to their residences between the hours of 2 a.m. and 7 a.m. Night Ride (734-528-5432) is a $5 shared-ride taxi service within the city of Ann Arbor, and it runs from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. Monday through Friday and 7 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. Also, if you decide to take a cab, make sure you ask the driver to wait until you are safely inside your destination before leaving.
Though these safety tips are crucial to assuring personal security, promoting these suggestions is only the beginning of what can and should be done to improve safety throughout campus. With everyone’s attention turned toward the recent Oxford-area crimes, it’s up to us — the student body — to come together to initiate positive, proactive changes in safety procedure. Working alongside the Dean of Student’s Office, we plan to organize a cross-campus safety coalition with representatives from MSA, LSA Student Government, Greek Life and other student organizations. With everyone on board, we will have the capability to pool our resources, streamline information to students in efficient and creative ways and determine which next step will have the greatest, most direct impact on student safety.
We are enthusiastic about the student response thus far, and we hope to expand this dialogue between all interested students in order to construct the safest campus possible. If you are interested in participating in this discussion, please join us at our meetings on Fridays at 2 p.m. in MSA Chambers (3rd floor of the Michigan Union). We look forward to collaborating with you to make a lasting difference at the University.
Josh Buoy and Stephanie Hamel are the chair and vicechair of the MSA Student Safety Commission.