The University Police Department said it has responded to students’ security concerns in Aston Hall after recent crime incidents, and said it needs students to join the fight against crime on and around campus. Students admitted, however, they do not always take steps to avoid becoming crime victims.
The Aston now has community service aides on duty until 7 a.m., instead of 3 a.m. like other residence halls, and UPD added an additional hall patrol after 11 p.m., said Dolores Stafford, director of UPD.
Officers have also increased their presence on 21st Street, Stafford said.
Stafford said students should walk down 21st Street when walking between the Aston and campus.
Increased security measures came in response to student requests after two female Aston residents were followed into the elevator and threatened by a man who did not live in the Aston, Stafford said.
After the incident, UPD issued a crime alert telling students not to allow strangers to piggy back into their residence halls by holding doors and elevators for them.
We can’t effectively increase security without students’ help, Stafford said. Even if I had two or three times the number of officers, we still can’t be everywhere.
Stafford said students should not put themselves in a position to become crime victims.
A female GW student was attacked and robbed while walking alone at night near the Aston Nov. 9. Stafford said the incident might have been avoided if the student took a cab or used 4-RIDE, the University’s escort service.
I think sometimes (students) forget that we live in an urban area, Stafford said. Students need to realize they are putting themselves in a position to become a victim of crime when they walk on the street at night alone, or even in groups.
Some GW students said they feel relatively safe walking alone on campus, even at night, but know that they may be putting themselves at risk.
I know in the back of my head that I shouldn’t walk home alone at night, but it’s so much more convenient, junior Sara Dinoff said.
Junior Allison Corley said she feels safe because she usually sees UPD officers when she walks home alone.
Sophomore Michelle Cuozzo agreed. When I walk by myself I always see 4-RIDE vans driving around, Cuozzo said. Sometimes they even stop to pick you up.
Some students said there are certain times at night or areas of campus they feel are less safe than others.
It depends on the time of night, after midnight I feel less safe, sophomore Adrienne Taylor said.
Taylor said she avoids walking in parking lots or parks at night, especially the park in Washington Circle.
Some students said they believe people make themselves vulnerable when they walk home after drinking.
Some people I’ve seen come back from clubs are pretty wasted, freshman Jeremiah Davis said. I don’t know if they would be able to defend themselves if something happened.
Stafford said she encourages students to use the UPD escort service, 4-RIDE more often, instead of walking home alone. She said the service, which drives students to and from any location up to three blocks off campus, runs from 7 p.m. to 5:45 a.m.
Stafford also said UPD is expanding its blue emergency light system to include phones on 22nd Street between Pennsylvania Avenue and the Aston, and on 24th Street near the Hall on Virginia Avenue, but has run into red tape trying to get permission and funding to install the phones.
Stafford said students should always be alert when walking on the street at any time of day, but they should be especially careful during November and December. Robberies tend to increase during the holiday season, she said.