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Step up your Game, NDSP & SBPD

I had to carry an aluminum baseball bat with me on campus Saturday night.

When my roommate met me there, she took one look at me and jokingly yelled, “Why do you have a baseball bat?”

My reply?

“Someone was abducted from campus last night – I’M NOT F***ING AROUND!”

Because after reading the email from NDSP hours before about how someone was abducted FROM Notre Dame’s campus, I didn’t feel safe walking alone that night. Come to think of it, I RARELY feel safe walking on campus or in the surrounding areas these days.

Lemme tell ya why:

Last year, someone I love was held at gunpoint and robbed right at the entrance to Clover Village, straight across the street from the Lacrosse field.

This year, one block north of my townhome, three students were robbed in the same fashion.

Two weeks ago, a man was shot and killed outside the South Bend Avenue Apartments in the broad daylight. These apartments are just south of campus, and I drive past them multiple times each and every day.

One week ago, an email was sent out that a student’s house was robbed – while they were sitting inside of it. 

But now the fact that these brazen criminals are actually coming ONTO the University’s campus and having the GALL to abduct a student with potentially no actual weapon should officially lead us to one major conclusion: NDSP, South Bend Police, and the University of Notre Dame itself aren’t doing enough to keep people safe. These crimes appear to be escalating, both in magnitude and frequency.

Sure, there’s a new initiative called “O’SNAP” that drives people around campus at night. And there’s a few Blue Light Emergency Buttons on campus. Those are great, but they still not enough. Especially when we get emails like this:

My favorite part is the little blurb that NDSP tossed in at the end of this email announcing the student’s abduction: “Students are encouraged to travel in groups and utilize safe transportation such as licensed cabs or Transpo.” 

Travel in groups? Yes, because that worked so well when THREE students were held at gunpoint and all robbed simultaneously. Yes, the group measure was just such a deterrent.

Take a cab? Ah of course, because it’s always wonderful when South Bend cab drivers REFUSE to take individual people or groups of less than three home from various bars because, “It’s not worth it.” That’s right, the cab drivers of South Bend have the cajones to not only refuse students rides but to also DROP THEM OFF wherever they see fit because places like Saint Mary’s and University Edge are “too far away.” (Click here for some proof of that.)

(There’s also the other cabbie favorite of stuffing cabs with as many people as they possibly can, up to double the amount of seats that are actually available. So quick Cabbie Math Lesson: 6 seats x 2 = 12 people can fit! Perfect! That’s so safe if we get into a car accident!)

Then there’s my personal favorite story. I heard it the other night, about someone’s friend who had to take a cab with a bunch of people he didn’t know – otherwise the driver wouldn’t give him a ride – only to get MUGGED while inside the cab. Yay! 

So with such a memorable collection of stories, do people feel like there is an increased police presence of squad cars constantly circling the campus and densely student populated areas like Irish Row, Irish Flatts, Clover Village, Irish Crossings, and the walk down Eddy Street or Notre Dame Avenue to surrounding neighborhoods?

The resounding answer I’ve gotten lately from the Twittersphere and old-fashioned grapevine? NOPE.

You know where I always manage to see some officers hard at work? You can usually catch two to three of them sitting in folding chairs, chatting, at the Marathon Gas station right off of the toll road on a Saturday nights.

But for fear of being accused of pointing too many fingers and not providing a solution, here’s just a few things I’ve heard that could be implemented:

1. The campus itself and major paths that students will take to walk off campus should be lit up like a Christmas tree. Simple as that. Spotlights and cameras every few feet, even on areas that aren’t technically Notre Dame’s property, like across Twyckenham on the side of Clover Village. If we can afford a $400 million Campus Crossroads project, how about we solicit some donations so that future Domer Donors don’t end up dead? (Do I get bonus points for alliteration here?)

2. Police cars stationed along major exiting walkways that students leave campus from, with an especially heavy presence along Notre Dame Avenue, Eddy Street, and Vaness Street (street that leads to Irish Row and Crossings, and Clover Village).

3. Increased police presence patrol around the borders and streets of the University, and ESPECIALLY in the parking lots. Because, hey, all it takes is one big white van with a sliding door parked next to someone’s car as they walk up to it after a late review session…..

4. Adding more Blue Light Emergency Buttons everywhere on campus. You know how at Disneyland it’s an average of 20 steps to reach a garbage can? Let’s try something like 20 yards to every Emergency box.

5. Increased outreach to student communities through forums such as the Off-Campus Council, as well as a door-to-door grassroots effort by NDSP and SBPD to talk directly with students about how to prevent crime. 

Because don’t get me wrong. Students often cause their own problems. I had a police officer share with me horror stories of student stupidity when he came to check the safety measures I have in place at my own off-campus residence. So I know that leaving your car unlocked with an iPod on the front seat? Dumb. Leaving house windows wide open? Dumber. Walking home alone from Fever back to campus? DUMBEST, DO YOU HAVE A DEATH WISH?! 

So yes, I understand that many of the students of Notre Dame aren’t always necessarily innocent, virgin little lambs when it comes to crimes perpetrated against them. That is why students and the police forces need to communicate and work together – NOT see each other as enemies – to work to prevent as much crime as possible. However, it reaches a certain point that “prevention” is not the play of the day, but rather there needs to be a call to action for the law enforcement agencies and institutions in the area to step up their game.

Because now the crimes are about more than just preventable theft from a few airheaded students.

They’re about our lives being in some serious danger. 

And until NDSP, South Bend Police, and the University all work together to step up their game, I just might have to walk around with my baseball bat.

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Brooke Kovanda is a senior at the University of Notre Dame and from Lockport, IL.  She is majoring in business marketing with a journalism minor.  When not blasting everything from Van Halen to Beyonce from her room, Brooke is probably planning an event for the campus radio station, narrating promotions at ND hockey games, or talking someone's ear off.  She faces an internal struggle between getting McDonalds or going for a run.  Her passions are journalism, media, and traveling; her dream is to work in public relations or advertising. 
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