Safety Not Guaranteed

The University needs to change the way it approaches security alerts.

By Morganne Wakefield

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On Tuesday, February 23, at approximately 8 p.m., I left my graduate critique class at the Logan Center on the southwest corner of campus. Shortly thereafter, as I walked to my car one block west between Cottage Grove and Langley, I was robbed at gunpoint and violently assaulted by four men.

This is a common area for students, staff, and faculty to park. Many park as far west on 60th as St. Lawrence, and the southeast area of Washington Park. Unfortunately, for me and for everyone else at this University, this area is not patrolled by campus police or security. The University of Chicago Police Department (UCPD) will patrol as far north as 37th Street, but not one block from the “multidisciplinary home for the arts at University of Chicago,” the Logan Center, which can now be considered one of the most vulnerable buildings on campus.

I am greatly disturbed that no security alerts went out that Tuesday night. After contacting Marlon Lynch, I was informed of what I already knew: my assault took place outside the UCPD patrol zone, thus no security alert would be issued. While I understand the boundaries and logistics of this response, it felt thin.

The Logan Center is probably one of the most populated buildings on campus: in addition to the hundreds of undergraduates, staff and faculty who use the building every day, 16 M.F.A.s and 18 B.A. students have 24-hour access to the building, and often hundreds of people from the Chicagoland area will visit for concerts, plays, or lectures. Students and faculty need to remain aware of any and all crimes that take place around this area in order to take better safety precautions. In light of my experience, I have to wonder how many other assaults and robberies have taken place in and around that location and, subsequently, how many times the University community was not alerted. 

When it comes to security, simply patrolling University-owned buildings isn’t enough; the University is made up of people and buildings. The current patrolling routes should be expanded, and there needs to be an increased sensitivity to what constitutes issuing a security alert.

As the University continues to emphasize the value of the arts and art education for not only students, but also the community of Hyde Park and the city of Chicago as a whole, there should be an accompanying dialogue as to what further measures can be taken to ensure the safety of all. 

Morganne Wakefield is an M.F.A. candidate in the Department of Visual Arts (’16).