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Hidden danger off campus

Observer Viewpoint | Friday, January 20, 2006

Reading the headlines from the Jan. 19 edition of The Observer about off-campus break-ins (namely at Kramer properties) did not surprise me. However, Mark Kramer’s selective memory of prior incidents did. The Observer quoted him as saying something to the effect that he “could count on one hand how many times this has happened” in all of his years of renting houses to students in high-crime neighborhoods.

I can count on two hands (and maybe a foot) how many times it happened during the 2000-01 school year on Kramer properties alone. At my house on Cedar Street, we had one break-in and a man show up at a party, yelling at students and revealing his handgun. I found a security guard beaten and his handgun stolen in front of my house on my way to a party at Lafayette.

My girlfriend lived on St. Pete’s Street and thieves broke in three times that year. Across the street from them, a porch full of their neighbors was robbed at gunpoint. I could go on naming other crimes at other houses on other streets, but the point is that these are not isolated incidents (as Kramer wants all of you underclassmen to believe).

I certainly do not blame Kramer for these crimes, but it makes me upset (enough to write this letter anyway) that he tries to make it seem as if off-campus crime is a rarity. Kramer wants all of his future leasers to sign binding contracts with the reassuring statistic that at most, five break-ins have ever happened on his watch. To put it simply, Kramer is misleading his tenants. Kramer once assured me that our neighborhood was safe and I believed him. I wanted to party and live the good life off-campus like everybody else, but I had absolutely no concept of the real dangers that existed south of campus. His “see no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil” charade is irresponsible and needs to be exposed.

When those of you who rent from Kramer a year or two from now (and you will, because he owns all of the houses), be wary of the dangers in your new neighborhoods. When Kramer furrows his brow, purses his lips, holds his open hand up and tells you, “This is how many times we’ve ever had problems at my properties,” ask him how many times each finger represents.

Ted Higginsclass of 2001Firefighter/ParamedicMadison, WI