As the ever-odd year of 2020 has passed, Campus Police have published their report on crime throughout that time period
College is a time in everyone’s life that is full of life changes. For many, it is also perhaps the first time in which they have left the safety of being at home with their parents, granting them a new, much wider perimeter of individualism and independence to make their own decisions. With this safety net gone and the college students being left to their own devices, it becomes the responsibility of them to protect themselves and not place themselves into a dangerous situation. However, it also is the job of the academic institution that they attend to maintain a safe environment for everyone of all walks of life to the best of their ability.
The University of Tulsa is no exception to needing to place a high standard for student safety and put measures in place to uphold such standards. While there are many different measures put in place to protect Tulsa’s students from criminal activity, the sad reality is that if people intend to do wrong to another person, they are going to find a way to do so no matter the rules, policies, and laws put in place. Sadly, this means that at the end of each year, there are always those who slip through the cracks in the university’s system.
It should be a comfort to those who attend the University of Tulsa that over the span of 2018 to 2020, the overall trend in crime reports has decreased. We can all rest assured that over those three years, no murders of any variety, manslaughter or otherwise, were reported. No arson was reported on or off campus, as well. It is comforting to see that the students at TU have neither been killing each other nor setting things on fire, at least according to what has been reported.
Unfortunately, we cannot say that this is also the case when it comes to harassment and assault; however, it is worth noting that these numbers have drastically decreased between 2018 and 2020. According to TU crime statistics, rape reports have decreased from 11 cases in 2018 to one in 2020. There was also only a total of five domestic violence, two dating violence, and two stalking reports. While it is easy to say that statistically this appears on paper to be fantastic news that these numbers are relatively low, there are many factors to consider. First and foremost, it must be remembered that these are more than numbers, these are victims of violence, human beings with life and dignity who were not treated as such, taken advantage of, abused and violated. The fact that there is even a single number above a zero in this area means that the University of Tulsa still has a lot of work to do. But it is not simply the college’s job to protect these people. At the very basic level it is the student’s responsibility to look out for one another. These people matter as individuals, and so they should be treated as such.
The same goes for other illegal activities that we see in the crime statistics. There were only three reported cases of aggravated assault on campus in 2018 and none in the following two years, but there was still one report both in 2018 and 2019 on public property involving students outside of the campus. Burglary has increased while the other areas have decreased, with only two cases in 2018 but 15 in 2019 and 19 the following year in 2020, all on campus and two during those years off campus. Motor vehicle theft has gone up and down, with 7 in 2018, 10 in 2019, and 3 in 2020. Over the course of the three years, weapons violations, both referrals and arrests, have reached zero, although there are some famous cases of firearms in possession of students.
But the highest numbers in violations are drug and liquor related, both of which have continually increased to 37 drug violations and 129 liquor violations in 2020. This is not surprising with the general trend in college life across the board, and anyone who tells you that university life is not a breeding ground for substance abuse, addiction and underage use of alcohol, drugs, etc. is fooling themselves. It is not unreasonable to associate sexual assault cases to substance abuse as well, because it is no secret that the two often go hand-in-hand, in particular when it comes to the stereotypes around organizations such as greek life and their parties which are not known for checking ID, particularly when it comes to female attendants. Of course, such problems expand past organizations such as these to other areas of campus life, and it is wrong to assume it is just fraternities and sororities alone, especially when there are good people still involved in these groups. Complacency of any kind, whether on the part of the university itself or on the students, should not be tolerated, and there needs to be major shifts to prevent any criminal activity, especially violence and assault, to continue on TU’s campus.
It is possible that the trend downwards in many crime report statistics are due to the pandemic, so 2021 will be a very telling year of whether or not the University of Tulsa is changing in its environment for the better. There are some immediate actions that can be taken to keep up this trend, however. First of all, the “mandatory” sexual assault substance abuse, etc. training needs to be made into some sort of required in-person course for all students, because it is currently too easy to simply turn on the training online and not pay attention without any sort of system of accountability on the part of the University of Tulsa. Secondly, we need to keep in mind that all these statistics are just those that are reported and that there may be many more crimes that are not being reported. Students need to feel comfortable getting help and having functioning resources available and easily-accessible in times of need, such as working blue emergency telephones all over campus. And finally, students need to step up for those around them. It starts with the bystanders, because if no one is bold enough to stand up for those who are being wronged, then nothing will ever change.