Sense of safety comes from faith in numbers
It’s hard not to fall victim to the anecdote. Journalists especially love a good anecdote; there’s nothing better to add flavor to a story and help it come alive.
Even before the recent disappearance and murder of Patricia Guardado, you might have been hard pressed to find someone who had not heard a story or two about someone’s bad experience with crime on or around campus.
No campus or community will ever be perfectly safe. But like many students I feel safe, especially on campus, and that is because I know the numbers.
Journalists generally don’t consider themselves “math people,” but we tend to believe the numbers when it comes to statistics. And the numbers show that UALR is a safe campus.
In the last three years just 11 violent crimes have been reported either on-campus, in student residence, on the public property like streets and sidewalks surrounding the campus and in non-campus buildings and property controlled by student organizations or used by students for educational purposes.
In fact, compared to other campuses in Arkansas, UALR is the safest. That doesn’t mean that the surrounding areas are safe; we know they are not.
The tragic death of Guardado allows the campus community to reflect, and make proper changes. But remember, all of the security measures in place could not have stopped what happened. UALR police officers don’t have jurisdiction in the parking lot behind Burger King, where Guardado’s car was found. Campus officials can and are doing what they can to make everyone feel safe, but there’s only so much that can be done.
Let’s be realistic people. We can’t let this one horrific event make us attack our campus police. Law enforcement officers are often seen as superhero-like figures that are expected to save the day no matter what. Once you get out of that fantasy mind set, you have to realize that they are human beings just like everyone else. The campus has over 13,000 students plus faculty and staff members. That number is larger than many cities in the state. During the safety discussion led by Chancellor Joel Anderson on Oct. 21, Lt. Terry Hastings with the Little Rock Police Department made a good point when he said most towns of that size don’t have anywhere near the officers that UALR does, which currently has 25.
Shuttle buses, escorts, additional blue-light phones – those are all great, but don’t let fear overcome you and cause you to become irrational.
Some students have even suggested that DPS officers stop people on campus and ask for identification. This is no answer to concerns over safety. UALR is a public institution and students and people in the community come and go freely.
It is great that many people are interested in being apart of the campus discussion of safety, but be careful what you wish for. If security measures get taken too far we could be having to take off our shoes before we go into class and having to pitch any containers of liquid that are more than three ounces.