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Make changes to improve safety

The two most recent armed robberies on and near campus bring the year's total up to four such incidents, which is unacceptable and embarrassing for the Duke University Police Department. DUPD must make wholesale changes immediately, and in the mean time it must educate students about how to react in such situations.

Since Thursday, students reported two more armed robberies on or near campus, bring the total to four armed robberies in just three weeks. The two most recent robberies occurred on West Campus in the Edens Drive fire lane and off East Campus, at the intersection of Gregson and Minerva streets, following two robberies on Central Campus in the preceding weeks. These incidents show the vulnerability of campus and raise serious questions about the University’s ability to keep students safe.

We understand that some crime is not preventable, and we strongly encourage students to take all the precautionary safety measures. At this point, however, Duke University Police Department is clearly doing something wrong and needs to seriously address safety issues on campus. Four of these types of crimes occurring in such a short time span is unacceptable, and as a community, Duke students have the right to demand appropriate protection. Right now, we are not getting it.

It is extremely disconcerting that this happened on West Campus, which is supposedly the most secure of the three campus. While the University has recognized the potential for crime on and near Central and East Campuses, they have yet to acknowledge and address the dangers on West. Edens Quadrangle is surrounded by wooded area, is poorly lit and has a lot of hiding places and escape routes. These are all safety concerns that the University needs to recognize. The DUPD should be embarrassed by the way it has handled campus safety so far this year, and it needs to make wholesale changes immediately.

The advice that the University gives students on preventing crime—lock your doors and walk in pairs—is not bad advice, but it is not enough. The response from the University and DUPD must be stronger. Security needs to be the University’s number one priority. It needs to recognize that these situations are happening and should advise students on what to do when crime does occur. DUPD needs to blanket the entire campus—East, West and Central—with officers. West needs to have police officers on foot stationed all across campus. Central needs increased security patrols at night. The area off East that is under DUPD jurisdiction needs to have more DUPD officers in it. Something must be done to keep students safe.

Also, we have yet to hear of any developments toward solving any of these crimes. Although DUPD needs to devote the appropriate effort toward preventative measures, it also needs to devote time to catching the perpetrators. As students, as a community, we have a right to feel safe. We have a right to be on campus and a right to walk back to our rooms at night without getting robbed at gunpoint.

Four armed robberies in three weeks is ridiculous and demands the attention of the entire University. Safety needs to be at the top of every administrator’s list until something is done to prevent this rash of crime. The University cannot simply respond with rhetoric and empty promises. It is time for action.

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