One thing that prospective students and their parents are always told during Temple information sessions and campus tours is that “the sun never sets on Temple’s campus.” Although no one can deny the glowing radiance that is Liacouras Walk at night, there were five robberies on campus last month. The time has come to examine the flaws that exist in the university’s security.
It is undeniable that parts of campus are well lit – but only some. Lighting around Liacouras Walk, Paley Library and the Tuttleman Learning Center is sufficient, but visibility on secondary walkways leaves something to be desired.
These places include 12th and Cecil B. Moore by Temple Towers, the plaza at behind the Cecil. B Moore Avenue subway stop, and the entire stretch of dark and eerie 12th Street.
The worst of these inadequately lit places is, by far, the grounds of the engineering and architecture building on the corner of 12th and Norris streets. At night, there is barely any light in the area and the surrounding trees do not help the situation. When visiting the location to experience what others had been commenting about, I was anxious to leave the area as soon as possible. Conditions were so dark I could barely see anything around me. To be quite honest, it is a frightening place.
Based on this description, it is no surprise that an architecture student was robbed at the building’s entrance at 9:15 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 3.
According to the police report, the student was attacked by two men, bear-hugged and robbed of his wallet that contained $50. The student said the police got it wrong – it was three men.
Of course they robbed the student in front of the engineering and architecture building. If you were a mugger, wouldn’t you ply your trade there too? The absence of light and the shadows of the looming trees create a perfectly dark and hidden setting. Furthermore, the building is designed so that the entrance doors are hidden from the street by the overlapping of a perpendicular wall, providing extra privacy for a crime. And why was there no security guard at the building’s entrance like there is supposed to be?
According to the 2004 edition of You and Campus Safety, the annual security report released by Temple’s Department of Campus Safety Services, there were eight incidents of robbery on Temple’s main campus in 2003.
Considering it was over the course of an entire year, this statistic doesn’t sound too bad, right? Well, what does it say about Temple security when there have been five reported robberies in the last month alone?
There is no definite solution to extinguish crime. However, improving the lighting of 12th street and at the engineering and architecture building would be a start.
Besides lighting fixtures, there should be more police officers on bikes patrolling at night. Investigating campus on a Monday night to discover these dimly lit places, I saw only one of these officers.
The increase of on-duty police officers at night would undoubtedly reduce crime. Security guards should also be posted at the entrance of every academic building that has classes at night. True, on most nights, there is a security guard posted. However, there was not when the robbery occurred on the night of Oct. 3. There must never be a deviation from the security procedure.
Temple loves to boast about its efficient security. By all means, I am not labeling Temple’s security as completely ineffective.
But the robbery of a student at the entrance of an academic building early on a Sunday night is unacceptable.
It is a hypnotist’s classic trick to ask the members of his audience to raise their arms up in the air as high as they possibly can. Then he’ll ask them to extend their arms a bit further.
The audience is always able to. In Temple’s case, all they need to do to improve security is try a little harder to extend their protective arms, and this can certainly be accomplished. Otherwise it will remain nothing else but what it currently is – an illusion.
Jesse North can be reached at email@example.com.