Living off-campus, as opposed to living on-campus, means there’s an increased chance of becoming the victim of a crime. There’s no one guarding the lobby of your apartment at all hours of the day. There’s no ERTS box attached to the side of your house. The time it takes for you to twist the key in the doorknob can be just enough time for someone to rob you.
However, students still choose to live off-campus, including myself. It’s a big risk students take when choosing to ditch the dorms, a risk parents allow them to take. When a crime happens off or near campus, we need to know about it, especially if the crime is on the same street we live on.
An armed robbery occurred on Feb. 22 at 812 W. Clay St. — the same street I live on. The robbery was reported at about 3:20 am, but not a single student received an email or text alert about the crime, according to The Commonwealth Times.
Crime alerts are sent to the students who are signed up for the texts, but students were not notified of this particular crime. There has been no report sent out to students stating why certain crime alerts don’t get sent to students; however, a robbery is considered a crime that must be conveyed to all students under the Jeanne Clery Act if it occurs on the university’s campus.
According to the Clery Center, this act requires colleges and universities across the United States to disclose information about crime on and around their campuses. Other crimes that require reporting under the Clery Act include criminal homicide, sex offenses, aggravated assault, burglary, motor vehicle theft and arson.
With this in mind, it’s important that students are aware of all the crimes that fall under the Clery legislation.
For example, it would have been beneficial for students to know about the crime on Clay Street so they could have made plans to avoid that area. If police are there investigating the scene, we should be notified via text message, rather than finding out from a news outlet.
The inconsistency of crime alerts can be problematic for students because it leaves them less informed of what goes on off-campus. In order to avoid these inconsistencies, VCU should immediately send out a crime alert the moment it is reported to the police. This way, students are notified right away and there will be no room for leeway in the notification process.
There should be no reason why students aren’t getting crime alerts for serious acts committed near campus. Many students live at the heart of neighborhoods that are notorious for crimes, therefore the inconsistency of crime alerts sent out cannot be tolerated.
The VCU community has the potential to become a safer place if students are better informed of all serious crimes happening on and around campus. Crime alerts make a big difference for students and faculty. We can’t afford to miss one.