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As crime in Philadelphia has decreased over the past five years, so too have admission rates at the University. Both decreasing figures are in agreement with nationwide trends, though according to many, there is little doubt that at Penn, the numbers are related. "If students are worried that they are going to be assaulted when they walk outside, then we've got a problem as an institution," said History Professor Eric Schneider, assistant dean and associate director for academic affairs. While falling crime rates in University City is largely beneficial for Penn students, a more pleasant Philadelphia makes the University -- a school that markets its urban locale in order to stand out from other peer institutions -- a more attractive option for prospective students. Sgt. Roland Lee, spokesman for the Philadelphia Police Department, chose to quote the mayor when discussing how important it is to lower crime in any large city. Mayor John Street "says it all the time -- to be a great city, you have to be a safe city," Lee said. "They go hand in hand." Still, according to Schneider, crime goes in waves, and just because numbers are lower this year does not mean that Philadelphia and the nation will not experience resurgence in crime in the next few years. He explained that from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s, an extremely large number of prisoners were incarcerated, temporarily removing them from the streets. In his opinion, it is possible that as more and more of them are released without having received adequate job training, they could fall back into crime, increasing rates citywide. Schneider also cited the economy's current downturn, which has made it increasingly difficult for Americans to find work, as a reason that the current low crime rates may be unsustainable. Elaine Simon, the co-director of the University's Urban Studies Program, believes that Penn not only benefits from Philadelphia's safer streets, but that the institution helped create them. "Certainly the motivation for a lot of the changes that have occurred in terms of the difference of the area around Penn and the protection services that Penn provides are in response to the crime levels and the bad reputation the University had gotten in the period right before Rodin came," Simon said. Although statistics show that major crime rates have continuously fallen, some current Penn students have not really felt the changes. Reza Madani, a College senior who has lived off campus for the past two years, has been told by his mother, a Penn staff member, that University safety improved dramatically after an unspecified rape that had occurred. "I know that after that incident, things got a lot better," Madani said. "But for me, I don't feel like much has changed. I was never really worried about crime. I mean, I read about it in the DP, but I was never really affected by it." Christopher Donovan, the Gregory College House dean for the past four years, has not noticed any change in how students feel about Philadelphia or their safety in the city. Anne Mickle, who has been Stouffer College House's dean for the past five years, has always felt safe sending her charges out into the Philadelphia streets. She herself felt comfortable in the city in the past, and she continues to take the same safety precautions today that she took five years ago. Still, that is not to say that Mickle has not noticed a change in the way Philadelphia is presented to students. "Definitely in the last three years, there has been a push for students to see West Philadelphia," she said, citing the walking tours added to the New Student Orientation programs. "Before, the University had no reason to refute the rumors." For now, Philadelphia's increased safety is judged by different people in different ways. "I don't think it could have a big effect on where the University puts its energy, though I'm sure recruitment was part of the reason things changed," Simon said. "There's less anxiety walking around on and off campus at night than there was in the mid-1990s," Schneider asserted. For the Philadelphia Police Department, it is not about the University alone. "For the city of Philadelphia, the goal of the police department is to make the city safe for everyone here -- citizens, businesses and people who go to school here," Lee said. And, according to him, numbers can always be improved, and the police are not planning on slacking off anytime soon.

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