Bill Conway says the Undergraduate Assembly's target sticker campaign promotes campus safety. The other night when I went into Steinberg-Dietrich Hall at 11:30 p.m., I found no guard at the front desk and a side door propped open. This was less than a week after a girl was assaulted in the bathroom with a knife. I was especially concerned because after an incident there is usually a sudden surge in security measures for a week or two, and then the concern is gradually placed aside. If this is what happens during the sudden surge, what will happen during the drop-off period? After the attack last on November 8, the Undergraduate Assembly quickly issued a resolution on facilities security. Most of the things we put in that resolution were fairly common sense things like installing card swipers at the entrances of SHDH and Rosengarten -- instead of just requiring students to flash their card -- and adding assault alarms in all public areas. We then wrote a general safety resolution and developed the target sticker campaign. This second resolution had many things that we felt were fairly obvious, like the University publicizing other options for ways to escort students safely from study areas to their homes after 3 a.m. There was also a somewhat controversial proposal. We pledged our support to Public Safety that if they wanted to require those in University buildings to wear ID cards after 10 p.m., we would back them. Three UA members were very much against this proposal, but most thought that clipping the ID card to one's shirt was not a hassle and that students need to do their part to make campus safer. However, it is not the actual proposals within the resolutions that are important. Rather, it is the message we are trying to send. This University can no longer deal with security by throwing money at the Division of Public Safety, which they have done after shootings in the past two years. The administration, faculty and, perhaps most of all, students need to be aware of how the actions we take affect the safety of others. I do not mean to condemn anybody. I have been known to prop the doors open in SHDH myself. The UA hoped that by printing 4,000, stickers with bulls-eyes and the words "Am I A Target?" and giving them out to students, faculty and administrators, it would make everyone more aware of safety issues on campus. The response from nearly everyone has been positive. I personally received 64 e-mails about the campaign. I knew only nine of the people who sent them. Of the 64, only two were negative. We also received positive coverage in The Philadelphia Inquirer and on the CBS and NBC local news. Despite the overwhelmingly positive response, there were some aspects of the campaign that had potentially negative effects we had to weigh. One concern was the effect the campaign would have on the community. West Philadelphia residents have done a great deal of work to make the community safer and we do not send a good message to them by walking around wearing target stickers. But crime around Penn has increasingly come from those in other parts of Philadelphia who come to this area because they know Penn students are vulnerable and see the opportunity to commit crimes. This is especially obvious when you look at the increasing number of arrests for crimes against members of the Penn community and the amount of those committed by people from other areas. Essentially, criminals are targeting Penn students. This is partly why we chose the phrase "Am I A Target?" The other negative effect was that it puts the Penn campus back in the spotlight as an unsafe place. But that was a cost we had to endure to get the message across. The attack in SHDH could have been the fault of the Spectaguard being away from the front desk, a student who propped the door open or an administrator who decided to turn off the door alarm -- which is now back on. The sticker campaign wasn't just about getting administrators to listen to our proposals. It was about everyone taking responsibility for the safety of ourselves and those around us. Judging by its success thus far, we are all ready to do that. I want to thank many of you who were supportive of the UA during this campaign and I ask you to fill out a safety survey on Locust Walk that the UA and the Division of Public Safety are conducting today and tomorrow.Comments powered by Disqus
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