The University is not the only college in West Philadelphia, and its students and staff are not alone in feeling pressure, anger and fear over increasing crime in the area. They are not alone. Drexel University and the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science -- both located a few blocks from the University -- have enacted similar security measures, and students at those schools have also become more aware of the crime problem and what they can do to counter it. Richard Schneider, Drexel's senior vice president for administration, said yesterday that the school's security programs -- which include a shuttle service, a town watch, security guards in buildings and identification card readers in the dormitories -- seem to be effective. Drexel Director of Security James Powell would not be interviewed this week about the security situation at Drexel. Still, several Drexel students said this week that the measures are not enough. They perceive an increase in crime in the area, and complained that many of those security measures are ineffective. Like their neighbors at the University, many Drexel students move off campus. Schneider said there are 11,500 students at Drexel, about 60 percent of whom live either in campus residences or housing close to campus. The other 40 percent commute to school. Drexel's shuttle system operates from 5:15 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. every night, taking students to designated stops around campus. The two shuttle vans, known as the Dragon Wagons, travel in a loop and operate on a fixed time schedule. There is a van at each stop every 30 minutes, Schneider said. Drexel also has a reciprocal agreement with the University's Escort Service. But some students said that they do not like to take the shuttle because it takes too long to come. "People don't take it because they don't think it is worth the wait," said Kim Skoloff, fourth-year finance and accounting major. Drexel also has a neighborhood watch program, run by fraternities. Schneider said that the watch was named as one of President George Bush's "thousand points of light" last year. Students, mostly fraternity brothers, patrol the neighborhood around Drexel's campus in pairs and communicate with the local police district via telephone and walkie-talkie. The program is similar to the University's Penn Watch program. Drexel students said that the majority of crime occurs near dormitories and off-campus housing. But Schneider said that while the university is aware of the thefts on campus, less is known about off-campus crimes, since the incidents are frequently reported to Philadelphia Police, if they are reported at all. The school recently installed a $200,000 card-reader system to prevent unwanted entrants to the dormitories, Schneider said. But the measures have not reassured all of Drexel's students. Marketing senior Paula Grafstein said that her apartment has been broken into three times in the past year. She said crime has become intolerable. "I can't wait to graduate and get out of here," Grafstein said. · The Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science, located southwest of the University near 43rd and Kingsessing streets, has also instituted crime-prevention measures, said PCPS Director of Security Tim Michener. PCPS has walking and van escort services which operate 24 hours a day, every day. Michener said that escort service was used over 1700 times in September alone. PCPS has about 1500 students. Assistant Dean of Students Patty O'Hagan said one-third of them live on campus, one-third live off campus and the remainder commute. "We go out to the students, we try to contact as many as possible, " Michener said. "We have more of a proactive approach than a reactive approach." PCPS also employs 21 officers who provide round-the-clock coverage, seven days a week. Dormitories at PCPS are guarded all day and night by either security guards or other residence hall employees. Students must present a student identification card to gain access to the dormitories. Assistant Dean O'Hagan said that the administration has been selling personal alarm devices. For $5.50, the college's students and employees can purchase a device with a plug that, when removed, will let off a loud noise. The alarm can also be used to protect dormitory rooms from intruders. Michener said that an alert bulletin giving information about the location and nature of crimes, and general crime prevention tips, are posted around campus and handed out to students. "Most students are cautious," he said. "We try to put crime in perspective. We try to make them aware of what is going on. Our system is excellent." Michener said that there is a lot of dialogue between area schools -- a crime prevention group comes together to share ideas and information. "If we had a problem here we would notify others and they would notify us," he said. So far this year, there have been three off-campus robberies reported, two of which were strong-arm robberies and one in which the victim was held at gunpoint, according to Michener. One of the victims received scratches on her throat and chest. There have also been about 20 to 30 crimes on campus, the majority of which were thefts of wallets, calculators and other "crimes of opportunity," he said. Last year there were 72 crimes of this nature. O'Hagan, who is chairperson of the PCPS Security Committee -- where faculty and students come to air their gripes -- said that she does not have the impression that there is an unusually high crime rate on campus. She said that she has not received any complaints so far this year from students. "There is a crime problem in any big city," she said. "We have not been bombarded."Comments powered by Disqus
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