At UCSD, we are used to security. We stroll casually through campus long after sunset, and the blue emergency call boxes remain largely untouched. Yet, after Monday night’s stabbing at Center Hall, which sent one student to the hospital, we will all be looking over our shoulders and locking our doors. In its aftermath, the attack should be a compelling wake-up call for administrators to step up campus safety.
Given that UCSD’s on-campus population exceeds 24,000 at any given time, it is worrying that there is such a sparse police presence. Although parking empty police cruisers in the middle of Ridge Walk may deter speedy skateboarders, only actual officers patrolling the campus paths will prevent scary incidents in the future and provide quicker incident response. Only nine law enforcement officers actively work away from the desk; two of them specialize in confiscating errant bicycles. This shortage is not helped by the fact that officers rarely make it to the periphery of campus — nary is a police officer ever seen around Eleanor Roosevelt College or Earl Warren College.
University administration should also reevaluate its priorities and make sure actual safety matters come first. Rather than placing surveillance cameras and foot patrols in obscure Mandeville halls to avoid occasional graffiti artists, enforcement should be distributed around campus to keep students out of harm’s way. The new traffic lights on Gilman, Voigt and Library Walk indicate that there is some funding being appropriated for safety — those in charge should ensure that it is spent on the most effective measures.
Campus lighting is also a pressing issue. Several areas, such as the Sun God Lawn or the sinister forest between Geisel and Marshall, are eerily dark after 6 p.m. Though we get periodic emails asking us where we think lights should be placed, the administration needs to take some more decisive measures to resolve the problem. Halfhearted attempts to communicate the issue to largely indifferent students are not helping — a cursory inspection of campus dark spots and prompt construction is the only appropriate course of action.
There are other potential strategies that the university can pursue moving forward. As the campus continues to develop with projects such as the bike paths, efforts should be made to maintain well-lit walking routes and bright open space. The university should also work to publicize the various services available to students. Community Service Officers and A.S. Safe Rides can help us out in a jam, but their usefulness is marginalized if their existence remains relatively unknown. It doesn’t help that students often feel rather awkward calling CSOs and rather elect to trek around campus by themselves. UCSD management needs to make a concerted attempt to communicate the resources available and make the most of them.
Although the horrible stabbing was the first such incident in recent times, the university should make sure that it prioritizes student safety. We hope that we won’t have to see any more violent events before some positive change is instituted on our campus.