On the morning of July 4, around 1:30 a.m., two men were shot while walking down Sansom street. The shooting — in which both suspects and victims fired rounds — occurred near Kings Court English College House and popular local dining spots Mad Mex, New Deck Tavern and Doc Magrogan’s.
The Division of Public Safety confirmed that a UPenn Alert was sent at 1:52 a.m. and an “all clear” message at 2:17 a.m. Yet these alerts were only sent to faculty and staff who, like many Penn students, are not on campus during the summer. Why is it that faculty and staff are automatically enrolled to get the alerts, but students — who would more realistically be the ones out at one in the morning — are not?
During the academic year, students enjoy a certain level of comfort. A wide variety of classes are available to them, tuition is kept reasonable thanks to financial aid and they are warned of any danger through the DPS’s UPenn Alerts. Even when the school year comes to a close, Penn promises an enjoyable experience for students who choose to continue classes in the summer. Penn’s campus is beautiful, and although there are fewer students, there is more access to everything it has to offer.
But the reality of Penn summers is that the University is relaxed in more areas than it should be. Students who enroll in classes are already paying a significant price, at $4,058 per credit unit for School of Arts and Sciences courses. Wharton and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences charge a bit more: $5,848 and $4,327 respectively. The no-loan policy during the year does not apply to summer students, and housing is not included in tuition.
With this in mind, one would hope that at least the basic benefits of being a Penn student would be extended to the summer months. Pottruck, Student Health Services, libraries and other services are available for student use. Yet a fundamental aspect of student life — and a staple in convincing parents to relinquish their children to the expanses of West Philadelphia — is apparently seen as not so necessary during the summer: security.
This became glaringly obvious on the morning of Independence Day.
Apparently, the only reasons given by DPS for the lack of notification is that most students are not on campus and that “the technology doesn’t allow” students to opt into the system.
Yet after asking about it, a member of The Summer Pennsylvanian staff was told that he would be able to be added to the system to receive the alerts.
It does not follow that UPenn Alerts adds and accommodates 24,806 students during the fall and spring semesters, yet cannot accommodate a much smaller group that attends classes and works during summer. Why can’t a system which allows staff and faculty to opt out of receiving the messages do the same for students? How is it that a system whose technology doesn’t allow students to opt in conveniently allows a single student from the SP to be added?
These are questions that require answers. Maureen Rush has stated to students that “Your safety and security at Penn is our highest priority and we encourage you to partner with us and utilize the services, initiatives and trainings provided by the Division of Public Safety during your course of study or work here in Philadelphia.” However, perhaps safety isn’t as high of a priority, given that UPenn Alerts were first implemented in 2007. DPS has a system in place that allows tens of thousands of students to be enrolled based off of their Penn InTouch profile. To claim that this same system cannot be used to register summer students is absurd. If in eight years they have yet to find a way to include students who stay during the summer, it shows either a lax attitude towards safety or utter apathy.
If Penn truly cares about the community’s safety beyond boosting enrollment, we will need better reasons for this oversight.Comments powered by Disqus
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