Safety on campus should be primary concern for administration, students
The University Police Services sent out an alert in the early hours of Saturday, Dec. 10, to alert the campus of an assault and attempted grabbing of a female student after she finished studying at the library. She was grabbed in the parking lot near her car and managed to get away from the attacker. UNRPD is now searching for the man and encourages the public to come forward with any information they have regarding the man or the attack.
University students took to social media to express their shock this could happen on our campus. Despite living in a “safety bubble”, as UNRPD calls it, in comparison to the surrounding areas, the university is still subject to these types of events occurring on campus.
The university says student safety is a top priority, but we beg to differ as we have seen them fail to protect students this year and in previous years. Yes, UNRPD has received grants to address safety concerns — such as pedestrian and bicycle transportation — but safety is more than just physical well-being.
Safety is not just about not being kidnapped on campus during late hours, but also addresses how safe students feel on campus, and if they could potentially be harmed by the university’s response to these events — or lack thereof.
In the last two years, university property has been vandalized by swastikas being painted or carved into walls. One of these events was addressed as a hate crime, but the most recent vandalism wasn’t because it didn’t target a specific person or group of people. Since swastikas were the symbol of Nazi Germany, which committed the Holocaust, we think the message was pretty clear about groups the action was supposed to intimidate and threaten.
In addition, sexual assault has been a hot topic on campus this semester — especially after a document belonging to the Tau Kappa Epsilon chapter at the university was found to contain songs depicting rape and violence — and the university is now investigating to determine the punishment for TKE. However, it should have never gotten to this point. The university claims that they do not oversee the documents Greek life distributes during initiation and therefore did not know about the document. This is a soft excuse and the continuation of these traditions perpetuates rape culture on campus.
Another issue prevalent this semester is the accessibility of campus. In a recent housing event, disabled students came forward with their frustrations in regard to the difficulty of getting around. The university’s stance when it comes to accessibility is that some buildings are old and they are improving accessibility depending on priority and traffic numbers. However, students said the wheel-chair ramp at the Pennington Student Achievement Center is too steep, and the building is only two years old.
When the university fails to address these issues when they come to their attention, they send the message that they groups impacted do not matter and do not belong on campus — thus their safety is compromised.
However, safety is not just on the administration to handle — the students have to say something as well. Each of this issues came to light after the situation escalated unnecessarily. Students need to proactive in their protection and address issues with the administration as soon as they pop up instead of waiting until it escalates into an explosion.
At the town hall the Associated Students of the University of Nevada hosted this semester, students came forward to share their ranging experiences and issues on campus and asked the student government and administrators do better in response to these issues. This request is valid as the university clearly hasn’t done enough to ensure protection to some of these students, but students also haven’t gotten involved. ASUN’s meetings are open to the public and happen every week at the same time and location, yet students hardly show up to inform their representatives of the issues they face. Students also do not take advantage of the times university administration schedules to meet with students about issues such as Pizza with the President.
The university — student and administrative leaders — cannot address these issues if they do not know they exist. When the students speak up, the administration listens. Students need to get more involved and vocal about their challenges, and bring their concerns during all times, not just when the issues escalate into more.
It is on every single person on this campus to keep our university safe, and we all need to do more to make our university a better place.
The Editorial Board can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @NevadaSagebrush.