After being notified about four armed-robbery incidents in three days, Ryan Dadalski encouraged students to take action on Facebook.
On Friday, Dec. 10, Campus Safety Services sent a TU Advisory informing students that the report of an off-campus robbery of Temple students on the 1700 block of North Gratz Street was being investigated.
Ryan Dadalski, a senior film major, was unnerved. He knew one of the victims.
“My friend, Becky [Harding], got her house invaded, and that really made me mad,” Dadalski said. “Temple did post an alert, but it made me think, people need a site where they can get tips [on how to be safe], post their ideas and how they feel at Temple.”
Three days later, on Dec. 13, another TU Alert was sent. Three different armed robberies involving Temple students occurred between 12:30 p.m. and 1:15 p.m. at 1500 W. Dauphin St., 1300 W. Dauphin St. and 1500 W. Norris St.
This time, the incidents evoked more than a thought in Dadalski’s head. To make his friends more aware of safety precautions to take, he created the Facebook event “Eyes Around Temple” and invited the 251 Facebook friends he has within the Temple network. The group has amassed more than 1,900 attendees, and the number is growing.
“I just want to bring more attention to the subject that we’re not going to be easy targets,” Dadalski said, adding that he initially created the Facebook event to remind his friends to look out for each other and be smarter about the way they roam the area.
He has already received private messages from people who want to activate students and alumni to combat violence.
“I just want to get people more involved before something bad happens,” he said. “I don’t consider myself doing a lot. I just made a Facebook group. I just wanted to see if people had the same ideas about making Temple a little bit better.”
On the event’s information section, Dadalski wrote tips such as walking in groups, taking advantage of university-provided transportation, such as the Owl Loop, and keeping eyes peeled while walking.
“If someone wants to come and hold people up on campus, you have the knowledge,” Dadalski said. “You’re not on your phone, you’re not on your iPod. You’re going to be aware.”
One piece of advice – calling the Temple police at 215-204-1234 – is something Dadalski has used more than once during his three years living off campus.
While in his house at 15th and Fontain streets earlier this semester, Dadalski said he looked out his window to “see a kid on the ground with a gun to his face.”
Dadalski immediately called the Temple police, and the student who was robbed was later able to identify the alleged attacker, who is now in jail, Dadalski said. He received a summons to go to court in January as a witness.
During his sophomore year, Dadalski returned from his Thanksgiving break to his off-campus home at North Carlisle Street and Susquehanna Avenue to find the house was broken into.
“I think a lot of people could call the police, but don’t,” Dadalski said. “We called the police just to say there was criminal activity going on. It helps for them to know.”
Part of the reason Dadalski started the “Eyes Around Temple” Facebook group was so that students would have a forum to share their own stories, as well as offer ideas as to how Temple can help quell violence in off-campus areas. Dadalski also suggested everyone buy lightbulbs for their porch lights to illuminate areas Temple may not be able to.
“There’s always going to be crime, and we happen to live in a high-crime area of the United States,” Dadalski said. “I’m not trying to create a huge rally and knock on [Temple President] Ann Weaver Hart’s door, but I’m just looking out for my friends.”
“You don’t have to do anything, but you know, this is your school,” he added. “I like Temple a lot. I graduate at the end of this year, but next year, my friends are still going to be here, [and] my girlfriend’s still going to be here. I worry for them.”
Though Dadalski acknowledged the university’s current efforts to keep students safe, he said there are a few things Temple could improve, such as making sure Main Campus security boxes are consistently occupied with alert guards.
Since Hart approved amendments to the TU Alert System in September, there has been a change in the frequency of TU Alerts, which are used to communicate information regarding an incident that is an emergency and requires immediate action, and TU Advisories, which are used to communicate information about a significant incident that doesn’t warrant immediate action.
Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Anthony Wagner expressed concern to The Temple News about being too aggressive with using TU Advisories – so they don’t become routine – but Dadalski said he appreciates as much information as possible.
Although Dadalski said he feels “a bit more unsafe” than he did as a freshman, he said trading some on-campus securities for off-campus perks, such as more living space and his own room, is a balancing act students should weigh smartly.
Dadalski said additional TU Alerts could be helpful so that students considering off-campus housing would be more informed about crime in the areas they’re considering for housing.
“It’s little things, but the main thing is be aware when you’re off campus,” he said. “Use your eyes when you’re walking off campus. Use your ears. That’s going to help you. When you’re in your house, when you’re walking around, look out for other people too. If you hear scuffling or you see something happen out the window, call the police.”
“I don’t mean to bash Temple or the police or the community,” Dadalski added. “They’re all doing a great job, but I do think we all need to work together.”
Ashley Nguyen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.