Is crime on the rise around the University of Minnesota? When student Matt Novak was asked about crime in Dinkytown, he responded, “It’s gone up and is [expletive] ridiculous.” The University of Minnesota has a substantial amount of nightlife, and that nightlife leads to an increased risk in crime. In October, reported crime around the University of Minnesota had increased since the same time last year.
While the increase wasn’t very dramatic, the criminal activity isn’t going unnoticed. Students have been receiving many more crime alerts, increasing the awareness of crime on and around campus. As soon as the alerts are sent out, many students post the alerts to social media to spread the word hoping to keep other students safe and catch the suspects. When an attempted robbery occurred inside Anderson Hall, the University alert that was sent out swept through Facebook and Twitter hours before and local media were able to report on it.
It’s unclear whether this increase in alerts is causing students to perceive a larger amount of criminal activity is taking place; however, there is no doubt that the alerts from the University and local police have helped spark student’s awareness. Besides making students more aware of crime that occurs, the effectiveness of these alerts is uncertain. There are plausible scenarios where the alerts help directly, but effectively fighting crime often needs to start before crimes occur. Prevention is the key to safer neighborhoods.
The best way to avoid crime is to walk in groups and be aware of the surroundings. For experienced students, this seems like common sense, but for newer students it may not be as second nature. The easiest way to lose awareness of your surroundings is to drink excessively. While common sense is a great way to help keep students safe, being able to carry a weapon on campus is another important tool.
Some members of the university community immediately called for the banning of guns on campus or an increase in police presence. Neither of those solutions would fix the problem. In fact neither of those solutions are even feasible.
There is one solution that has a chance to help, though. That is for the university to allow students with carry permits to carry on campus. Some people have a reflexively negative reaction to this idea. People have been taught that guns are these evil things to stay away from. Ask yourself, though—wouldn’t you feel safer if all the trained ROTC students on campus were carrying pistols? That’d be like having free police officers walking around. Some folks argue that more guns on campus will only cause more gun violence. This seems convincing to many people on the surface, but it reality this theory doesn’t carry water. Say the university bans guns on campus. The vast majority of students and community members would abstain from carrying guns in that case. However, some people would disobey the rule. Who disobeys rules? Criminals. In this sort of a scenario, the criminals have guns on campus while everyone else is defenseless.
We all know that keeping all guns off campus is unrealistic. It would take building a fence around campus with TSA-style security at every gate. The university will not and should not do that. There also will not be a significant increase in police presence at the U. Minneapolis has many areas with high crime rates so they can’t afford to send more officers to the U. The U can’t afford it either unless they were to raise tuition—that’s something that none of us want.
In a perfect world, people would ever need a gun to defend themselves. We don’t live in a perfect world, though. There are people out there who desire to do harm to university students. Why then, does the university disarm students? This just leaves them defenseless against the wrongdoers. Allowing students who have undergone the detailed training to obtain a carry permit to carry is just common sense. It’s important that stakeholders in the university are able to overcome their gut reactions in order to do what is best for the safety of students. If we can prevent one assault or rape by allowing this it will be worth it. Common sense can help keep students safe, but so can carrying a weapon on campus. We are doing a disservice to students by pushing one and ignoring the other.