As I write this, I reflect on an email that many of us received from ODU last night. A student was robbed on the streets adjacent to campus near Taco Bell. This is no one’s fault expect the criminal that enacted this form of terror upon a student that was doing nothing more than minding their own business. One of the criminals seems to have stated that they had a weapon on them, and used this uncertainty as intimidation in order to gain access to the victim’s belongings. Other than the loss of money, phones and other belongings that we carry with us every day, the criminals have taken something else from the victim. They have taken piece of mind; they have put this victim through a trauma which can have a life altering impact.
This week I want to compare ODU to the University of Utah located in Salt Lake City.
Like ODU, UofU is located in a city, and has an open campus, with no distinguishing boundaries or entry control points. So why is their violent crime rate lower on and around campus? I spoke with an officer from the University of Utah about their campus carry policy. First it must be noted that campus carry in Utah is allowed by law and no public university shall prohibit it. When I asked the officer how the University police view campus carry he stated –
“They don’t care; they are there to enforce the law.”
I followed up by asking him if there had ever been any problems with people carrying concealed, his response was what one would expect…
“The vast majority of those carrying their personal weapons are law abiding people, you rarely know if they are carrying and if you do it’s by accident, maybe they got out of their car and their jacket rode up, we have investigated a few claims of armed gunmen but they turned out to be people who accidently showed their weapon through stretching or bending over… It has never been a real threat. “
The officer also stated that they have never responded to a call where a person was carrying concealed and committing a crime, in fact there has not been one instance of a personal weapon being used even ‘when it may have been warranted.’
My conversation with University of Utah police was enlightening. It was not what I expected; the point in the conversation that had the biggest impact on me was a statement the officer made. He, with extreme confidence said “you are safe on this campus.” Why did this have an impact on me? Because ODU has told us how to ‘be safe’ and not that we are safe, and that doesn’t even work as we have seen when a group of six students were robbed at gunpoint.
I spoke with a representative from the ODU Police and asked many of the same questions. They have no comment on the campus carry debate but they “feel” they are doing a good job at protecting the students… I don’t want to be one to judge, so I’ll leave that to you, the reader to decide if we are really safe. The part of my interview that really stood out was when I asked if ODU police feel as if we are safe – The answer was “Yes.” However, there was hesitation, unlike UoU where the answer was a swift and confident yes. To help keep you the student ‘safe’ ODU police do have extra patrols on Friday and Saturday night and they work closely with Norfolk PD to prevent and investigate campus related crime.
The only advice and guidance I was really given was to utilize ‘safety tips.’ I encourage the student to do this as it is our only option. Travel in groups, avoid ‘bad areas’ (which is hard to do.) Limit alcohol consumption and if need be, I highly encourage you to utilize Safe Ride or request an escort. The phone numbers to do this are – SAFERIDE 757.683.3477 or 757.683.4000. You may request an escort by contacting the ODU police office at 757.683.3477. They will escort you no matter how many requests they receive, I was assured that they will escort all who request it.
This week we have compared ODU to the University of Utah, and looked at statements made by their respective campus police regarding campus carry. The general climate is, as officers of the law, it is not their job to decide what is right and what is wrong, rather to enforce it. The University of Utah is not the only school to permit campus carry but in comparison to ODU, they seem to be a much safer environment and looking at the numbers, it is the safer environment.
At this time I would like to offer a rebuttal to a comment that was posted on the Mace&Crown website in response to my article two weeks ago titled ‘Do Gun Free Zones Work?”
The comment is as follows –
“A nice little college article. You’re missing the point. Even if college kids were armed those unwanted residents would still be living near us.
Did you see that?
Reread the “STILL BE LIVING NEAR US” part.
Now do you see it? The part where those unwanted residents would STILL BE LIVING NEAR US.
come on Art Major…”
I do appreciate the fact that a different view was tendered and I challenged, I would also like to say thank you for the compliment though is seems condescending. The user who posted this under the handle “ODUTRUTH” however proves my point. Yes, those ‘unwanted’ residents would still be living near us, I myself would not have used the term unwanted, maybe they are undesirable, but as we have seen recently ODU can’t just take land from the surrounding area. And yes, I did see that they will still be living near us, I think I have made that clear in the past that a major concern is our proxy to these areas and the crime and violence that they produce. However, what man has the right to displace another for their safety and on the other side of that coin, what man has the right to disarm another? Both of these actions are near criminal and flat out wrong. As it is their right to live in the area, it should be ours to protect ourselves.
I encourage you the student in the meantime to utilize all services ODU has to offer for your safety to include SAFERIDE and the escort service. But please remember one simple fact – We live in a world that has evil it, and unless you have an officer with you everywhere you go, nothing will stop an armed thug bent on taking your possessions and your dignity by force unless you have the means to fight back.
I welcome any concerns or comments from you the student. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Do you support Campus carry? Be heard – support the cause on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ODUcampuscarry
By Mike Sobey