New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

Opinion: NYU needs to better respond to crime

The university should educate students on how they can keep themselves safe in the city.


Manaal Shareh

As crime remains high in the city, safety concerns loom over students — first-years in particular. NYU Campus Safety needs to react to the heightened risks faced by its community members. (Manaal Shareh for WSN)

Marisa Sandoval, Contributing Writer

On the first day of school, I was greeted with the blaring sounds of sirens flying through the East Village. Remembering the recent spike in gun violence across the city, I felt fear rush through my veins. However, when I went to check my email for news of what happened, I found that it was empty.

As NYU students, we get to enjoy one of the world’s most famous cities, New York City, in all of its glory. The vivacious culture, delicious food — there is always something wonderful to experience in the city. But there is also a darker, more dangerous side to the bright lights of the Big Apple. The city is unpredictable, especially for new residents who don’t yet know their way around.

Students fear walking alone at night in dimly lit subway stations. They dread seeing blood splattered in front of residence halls or reading the news that the campus security guard who works in their building has been stabbed. There has been a troubling pattern of on-campus violence. Students are terrified to become victims of hate crimes, and some have even been subjected to attacks. Others are frequently harassed in Washington Square Park, which is essentially our quad.

One of the things that NYU prides itself most on is being a city campus. It is the responsibility of the university, then, to educate students on how they can protect themselves from violence happening in the city — on our campus — even if the violence does not involve students.

NYU’s Campus Safety department does offer programs to educate students on how to be safe in the city. But how many students have actually been to these workshops or even heard of them? Without sufficient attention to these programs, students never learn about them and are left to rely on apps and social media to answer their endless questions about where it is safe to be at all times of the day.

Fountain Walker, the head of NYU Campus Safety, notifies students by email when a crime has occurred in the neighborhood. The emails, often vague, give a basic account of where the attack occurred and what happened. NYU sends out these emails because of the Clery Act, which requires the university to report any crime statistics and security information that occurs within defined campus boundaries. For NYU, a school without a defined campus, those areas include Washington Square Park and the streets outside of many NYU buildings.

There are many ways besides email, which is often only checked for class-related announcements, that the university could use to inform students of violence. Perhaps they could give students the option to turn on notifications for crimes happening on campus so they are no longer caught unaware by the news. Being a student at NYU means loving the city, but it is difficult to be comfortable on campus when the university does not sufficiently inform the community of these violent interactions students must deal with daily.

Many students are also not from cities and grew up in smaller communities where they did not have to be aware of such safety concerns. When they’re suddenly thrown into a new environment while also juggling their new responsibilities, city safety proves difficult to learn. Often, it’s something they have to learn through experience, and it shouldn’t be. No student should have to experience a risk to their safety to learn how to live in New York City. It is NYU’s responsibility to educate its students on how to be city-literate and how to keep themselves safe.

WSN’s Opinion section strives to publish ideas worth discussing. The views presented in the Opinion section are solely the views of the writer.

Marisa Sandoval is a first-year undergraduate at NYU. Contact them at [email protected].

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