It’s safe to say, students are still scared

DKS Editors

Kent State is promoting itself as having the safest public university campus in Ohio according to an FBI Uniform Crime Statistics report and information from the Consortium for Campus Crime Research.

That’s all well and good, but it’s also important not to be complacent and just assume that nothing bad can happen at Kent State, on and off campus.

It’s important to realize students are worried. While we may have seen less crime in 2008, the severity of crimes on and off campus in 2009 and 2010 have surprised even seniors thinking back to their freshman and sophomore years.

Students have been robbed with brass knuckles and knives on campus. Two off-campus assaults in the last three months have resulted in deaths.

We’re not claiming the university is in any way responsible for what happens off campus, but it’s also naïve to think a student will spend all of their four or more years on campus. Going downtown is part of the Kent State experience.

And while we understand why Kent State is promoting itself heavily on its Web site as a safe campus, we think the idea that fears of the city and campus are unfounded is not fair.

“When unfortunate and isolated high-profile incidents happen, as was the case recently, it disrupts our sense of security,” President Lester Lefton said in a press release. “The result, especially with the heightened media attention, is that it creates the false view that Kent State and the city of Kent are unsafe. Nothing could be less true.”

Statistically speaking, the number of reported crimes may be down, but is it really fair to say that the city of Kent is safe when two students have been beaten so severely they eventually died of their injuries in the past several months?

We are a campus still in mourning. We are a campus full of students who look over their shoulders twice before returning home from a night at the bars.

Any school would be foolish not to publish a press release when groups judge their campus as one of the safest in the state, but it’s impossible to fight the recent perception of a dangerous place to go to school.

Don’t blame the media for reporting on very serious crimes that have taken place around Kent. If a Kent State student is killed, his or her fellow students, parents of students and the public at-large deserve to — and want to — know.

It’s not the media’s fault if people consider Kent State unsafe based on accurate reporting on crimes. If its students are really so safe on and off campus, we shouldn’t see many more major crimes against students any time soon.

We understand the university’s attempt to control the public’s perception of the relative safety of Kent State, but waiting may be the only option.

Statistics and press releases are ill comfort to students who have seen peers buried much too soon. The public will wait for reports of high-profile crimes to stop before they declare Kent State safe again.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.