By The Editorial Board
There have been more than 160 crimes in the 48th Precinct — Fordham’s precinct — during the 28- day period between Aug 23 and Sept 21, according to the Police Department of New York. The complaints filed during our first month on campus include one reported murder, three reported rapes, more than 48 alleged grand larcenies and more than 40 alleged felony assaults. There have also been more than 32 reports of robberies and more than 31 reports of burglary. The area crime rate, according to an interactive NYPD Crime Map, jumped an attention-worthy 16 percent compared to the same 28-day period last year.
Despite the fact that many students are residents of the local area — from Fordham Road to 185th Street and from Beaumont to Bathgate Avenue — the Department of Public Safety has done, and continues to do, little about informing students about the criminal activity just feet from Rose Hill’s gates. Not making advances on this front by aiding students with more information is short-sighted on the part of the university.
The criminal activity is often discounted as unrelated to Fordham students, but that is far from the case. According to U.S. News and World Report, more than 40 percent of Fordham students live off- campus, with many living in nearby apartments and arriving each morning by train and bus. In addition to a large off-campus population, Fordham students who live within the university gates spend a significant amount of time beyond them. Students often stroll in the nearby area, visit friends off-campus, grab a bite to eat or browsing at local grocery stores and shops. Similarly, during all hours of the week, students travel to and from the Fordham Road subway stops, which lie just outside Fordham’s precinct.
Even with its handful campus gates, students often seem, and usually are, oblivious to the slow but steady stream of crime happening in the Fordham neighborhood. The result, if students are not careful, is a student body blind to the realities of their surroundings. What makes matters worse is that the information is readily available, yet few students make an effort to take it into account. Fordham Public Safety can play a role in changing that.
The department can do a couple of things to heighten the student body’s awareness of ongoing crime in the area.
The first is the distribution of a weekly round-up of all crimes reported to Public Safety via email. The email can list the incidents of the week, major and minor, that were reported to the office. The pages of this newspaper have a limited amount of space for the incidents that occur each week. Weekly contact with students can be another reminder that Public Safety is active in assisting students. Just as importantly, a more pronounced role in the community would be of aid to students in an emergency, knowing that the department is a phone call away.
The second thing is an increased number of Public Safety alerts concerning non-Fordham related incidents. We trust the discretion of Public Safety to filter those that are unimportant — say, an unarmed robbery on the outskirts of the precinct — but knowledge of a shooting or robbery just feet from the gates of campus and, for some students, right outside their doors, can be beneficial for the Fordham community. Sending out alerts about these crimes can serve as a reminder to students that there are risks traveling on one’s own during the late hours of the night in a busy and often unpredictable city.
There exists already a number of resources students should consult on a regular basis. The Rose Hill Crime Log Sheet, for example, is a valuable online resource that makes on-campus incidents public to the Fordham community. A look at this week’s past incidents reported to Public Safety, for example, show a pair of grand larcenies and an attempted burglary at Rodrigue’s Coffee House, which was referred to the NYPD. Students do, and must, have access to this information. The goal is a heightened sense of awareness. Even so, the department can go further.
The goal is not to remind students of how dangerous the Fordham community is. The neighboring communities, after all, are home to hardworking people and thriving businesses.
The Fordham Road Business Improvement District alone is home to more than 300 businesses and is one of the busiest areas of foot traffic in New York City. Countless other businesses line the streets of Arthur Avenue and its cross streets.
The goal is to keep students aware of how dangerous the community can be. Consistently providing more detailed information about the more unsightly aspects of the community would be beneficial to all Fordham students. Weekly emails — accompanied by a menial amount of additional work in the Public Safety office — is a small price to pay for keeping students as informed, and as safe, as possible.