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Few concerned about campus safety

Katie Perry | Monday, April 25, 2005

It would be difficult to envision a campus with a God Quad as anything but safe, but even Notre Dame must face the reality of crime on University grounds and in the surrounding South Bend area.Despite recent concerns regarding crime – especially theft – in residence halls and other on-campus locations, community members still maintain that Notre Dame is generally a secure and welcoming environment.”Notre Dame enjoys a generally safe campus,” Notre Dame Sec-urity/ Police (NDSP) Dire-ctor Rex Rakow said. “Our crimes against persons are few and we count on an involved campus community to assist in the safety and security of everyone.”Rakow said NDSP works closely with the University to maintain a “safe and well-ordered campus environment.” Among the services provided by NDSP are residence hall programming, Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) and individual counseling. Additionally, officers patrol the campus on foot, bicycle and vehicle in order to maintain visibility to the community.”I think [NDSP] does a wonderful job not only of preventing crime, but of alerting the community about crimes that have been committed and investigating crimes when they occur,” said Badin Hall rector Anne Napoli, who agrees Notre Dame is a safe campus.”They are very professional and very conscious of their mission toward the students especially.”For many students, Notre Dame is a safe haven in which student endeavors can be pursued in an intellectual environment devoid of the threats of the outside world. “I feel relatively safe on this campus compared to others that I have been at in larger cities,” Siegfried sophomore Thomas Le said. “I think this is most likely attributed to the majority of good students that attend this school compared to some of the hooligans that go to state schools that I have encountered during visits to friends’ colleges.”Farley junior Katie Popik said her perception of Notre Dame’s safety is rooted in its emphasis on community. Although problems of theft have been addressed at dorms such as Knott and Lewis, Popkin still feels comfortable enough to leave her door unlocked.”I know most people in the dorm or my section well so if a random person comes in I’d take notice,” Popkin said. “[On campus], the only crime I think about is theft, but I [still] feel that I can leave my things, including my computer, in the library for a short time while I go to LaFortune or something.”Rakow said crime on campus has remained relatively the same in recent years and incidents of opportunistic theft continue to be the biggest crime category. Most of the property that is lost is unsecured.”There are obvious fluctuations in individual categories but overall the index remains about the same,” Rakow said. “Even with good resources it is the responsibility of everyone to report situations or observations that could challenge that safe environment.”Director of Residence Life and Housing Jeff Shoup said punishments for those found guilty of theft range on a case-by-case basis.”The amount of cash or value of property taken impacts the sanction, as does the number of times a theft occurred,” Shoup said. “Theft is one of the behaviors that is considered very serious [in duLac] and may result in suspension and dismissal.”Outside the confines of the University, the city houses crimes typical of any metropolitan area aside from instances of larceny. Despite Notre Dame’s apparent seclusion from South Bend, some students still voice safety concerns.Rakow said although South Bend is a “generally safe place,” it still faces many of the challenges all other cities face in times of shrinking resources.”The biggest fear of mine is being beaten and mugged, but I’m not afraid of it on campus,” Le said. “Off campus, however, is a different story, especially while walking at night away from normal student gatherings.”While Le expressed apprehension of off-campus crime, he said he did not think South Bend is nearly as unsafe as other places. To him, the perceived threats of students regarding off-campus crime remain just that – off-campus.”I do not think crime from South Bend seeps [onto] campus because I think NDSP does a good job of protecting the campus,” Popik said. “Notre Dame is definitely segregated enough that I don’t worry about things like the shootings that sometimes occur in South Bend.”But a recent crime may alter community perception of Notre Dame as a safe campus devoid of big-city dangers. Thursday night a student was robbed at gunpoint outside the Eck Visitors’ Center. Although the student promptly reported the crime to NDSP, the suspect could not be found Thursday. NDSP described the suspect as a 6-foot tall Black male in his late 20s to early 30s weighing approximately 180 pounds.