I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve recently recognized how desensitized I’ve become to the mass of DPS alerts Michigan students now receive all too frequently. As I walk home from class and check my email on my phone, I see a DPS alert, scan it numbly, and then erase it without giving it as much as a second thought.
That is not okay.
Nearly 3 and ½ years ago when I was a college freshman, I would freak out when I received one of these emails, which arguably came in much less frequently. I’d pore over every detail of the DPS alert and then call my brother anxiously asking him if I should be worried. He, a Michigan junior at the time, assured me that Ann Arbor was safe and I’d never find myself in any trouble as long as long as I was smart about things.
I think it’s realistic to say things have changed. I’m certainly not an authority on the reasons why Ann Arbor has recently seen a heightened crime rate, but I can report on how I, and a few other students I’ve talked to, have reacted to this increase in Ann Arbor crime/violence.
Like I said above, I myself represent the precarious population of students who have unfortunately almost become immune to these alerts. We receive them so regularly that nothing seems to phase us anymore. Instead of becoming more aware of the frequency of crimes on campus and adjusting our attitudes, we choose to roll our eyes at how absurdly dangerous our campus has become, and place these alerts in the spam folders of our inboxes and our minds. It wasn’t until a few weeks ago when I was sitting in my English class that I learned of the notorious rape on campus. As my professor brought up the subject, most of my classmates nodded in acquiescence acknowledging that they knew what he was talking about. Though I was in the dark about the whole issue, I quickly caught on that a DPS alert was recently issued about a girl who had been sexually assaulted by four males late one Saturday night.
Woops, missed that one. I turned to my classmate next to me and asked where the rape took place. “Hill and Tappan,” she informed me. “Hmm, that’s funny,” I thought to myself. “I live at Hill and Tappan.”
I realized that as much as I’d like to continue to ignore this elevated violence on campus, I cannot forward these alerts to my trash folder any longer. Regardless of the cancellation of the alert and whether this rape was factual or fictional, it’s simply not safe for students to behave like me and disregard these alerts, pretending like these crimes only happen to other people on other parts of campus.
When I asked my classmate Alice how she operates in response to the excess of DPS alerts, she said she refuses to walk alone after 7pm and rarely even takes her computer to the library anymore, fearing that something will happen to her on her walk to/from the library and she simply can’t risk losing her computer and all her work. She reads each DPS alert diligently and is always aware of the risk areas and situations she should avoid.
Obviously, Alice is the perfect example of a student who is reacting to DPS alerts the way she should: with caution and awareness. You know what else sets Alice and I apart? Alice has been the victim of an assault in Ann Arbor. Two years ago, Alice was walking home with a friend after a late night at the library when two hooded men held them both at gunpoint, demanding they hand over all of their valuables. Because the two girls remained calm and did as they were told, they were able to escape the scene without being harmed.
Thus, the case of Alice illustrates how seriously these victims now take the heightened crime in Ann Arbor and how acutely they understand that this violence can happen to anyone. They recognize how important it is to be hyper-aware about the crimes that happen every day on our campus. Alice is acting smartly and diligently, but it shouldn’t only be the victims of these crimes who have the sense to do so. After the recent events on campus, I think it is reasonable to assume that we all need to continue to stay informed and be responsible for keeping ourselves safe and accounted for. Crimes are happening all around us and if we, myself included, remain ignorant to that fact, we run the risk of becoming the next victims.
By: Emily Coyle
(Photo courtesy of sxc.hu)