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After the shooting at Virginia Tech, there was a common belief amongst most people that Universities should be a safe location. Indeed, this is a belief we should try to uphold. However, many urban schools struggle to reach that standard. In the same state, Virginia Commonwealth University, which now holds the annual Governor’s campus safety conference, is a mile below such a standard of safety. The area is plagued by shootings at a night club, the violent crowd brought in by rap concerts, and homeless or impoverished people hanging around.

It is not rare to hear gun shots from my dorm building, which in fact had a bullet fly though one of the windows in the years prior to my matriculation into the university. In the month before school, someone was shot in the restaurant across the street that is tailored to a night club crowd. Beside the restaurant is the night club, where police have to go nearly every time there is an event there. During my first year at the university, there was a rap concert at the famous Landmark Theater, lying in the middle of the school’s campus, which led to a gathering of people at the Monroe Park corner. I had walked past about fifteen or thirty minutes before some maniac decided to a fire a gun into the air. Due to the shooting at VT, an alert system was created to notify students in the case of an emergency. However, the system has yet to be perfected (There is actually a test in a few minutes…) and is not even used during such instances as I have mentioned. But who’s to say that a guy won’t come running from the club onto the campus firing a gun. If this is the case, the alert system is useless for the most immediate danger to the VCU population. Yet, there are too many incidents at the club or in the streets to sound of the alarm every time something happens. It is best to eliminate this danger, but the school is slow to take such action.

Most of the homeless people in the area are polite and passive, not pestering anyone about giving them money if they say no. But because of the large number of impoverished people in the area who lack the means to buy food on a daily basis, there is certainly a number of dangerous people amongst them. The beautiful Monroe park is known for the number of homeless people who crash there. After dark, it is essentially off limits, mostly due to the potential for incidents. Dating couples can forget about an evening walk in the park, and in fact anyone can forget walking just about anywhere after dark because the surrounding area is worse. VCU has the capability to aid the homeless, even if it is just enough to curb the danger to its students and faculty. And with an image that has been trashed recently, the school should now have the motivation to so. The school spends so much money on construction, but have they considered buying out the club? The school produces and distributes so much food per day, but have they considered helping supply the homeless with food so they won’t ask the school population for money? Have they considered developing plans to help homeless move on and to renovate Monroe Park, the very namesake of the Undergraduate campus? I am aware that the are is better than it was in the past, but it is still not even close to good enough. Some improvement is not an excuse for taking a lackadaisical approach to the future.

It would be of great benefit to everyone; students, faculty, and the homeless population, if VCU would take responsibility of the area and act to truly change the community. “With great power comes great responsibility.” VCU has yet to accept its responsibility for the safety of students and successful function of the community. The school pays the mayor hundreds of thousands to teach a class for which he rarely shows up. I think VCU can spare some effort for the betterment of the students and the community.

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