North Texas Daily

Column: Do you feel safe at UNT?

Column: Do you feel safe at UNT?

October 22
00:04 2013
It’s late. I’ve been working for 10 hours in the cavernous GAB basement. I walk up the courtyard stairs to be greeted by pitch-black darkness. I count six lampposts that are not illuminated. Maybe I’m just naturally paranoid, but when I walk out of a building on campus, I don’t like feeling afraid.

With all the construction sites around campus, it would seem logical for all the lighting to be in working order to help students navigate the new labyrinth.

Students walking across campus from Wooten Hall are greeted by similar darkness, as well as confining construction fences, which leave them vulnerable.

Denton has an extremely low murder rate, with fewer than three murders in all but two of the last 12 years. But a closer look at the statistics provides a much starker view of the city and crime, according to city-data.com.

At least 50 rapes were reported in nine of the last 11 years in the city, which is more than double the national average per 100,000 over the same time period. Denton is also close to the national average in assaults.

While there is not a direct link between the number of reported rapes and bad lighting, in a city where rape is a more prevalent issue, maximizing safety becomes extremely important.

And according to the UNT Clery report for 2013-2014, the number of rapes on campus has increased in each of the past two years, from zero to two to four last year, and according to an ntdaily.com article in April, the number could be much higher because so few cases are reported.

UNT Police offers a self-defense program for concerned female college students, but beyond that they said they are not doing anything differently in response.

With the recent news UNT plans to allocate $600,000 to add baseball to our sports programs, the question that begs to be answered is why isn’t UNT more serious about safety and completing construction projects efficiently and quickly.

A better use for that money and some of the expected $130 million being spent on the new union would be better directed at increasing the safety and minimizing the risk around campus.

The temporary dance and theater building is fraught with construction issues, including slippery, faulty floors, ill-suited mirrors and ceiling leaks.

When confronted with the safety and logistical concerns of the dancers, UNT’s Director of System Facilities Administration talked about the problems all new buildings face, going so far as to compare the temporary building to the Business Leadership Building and Apogee stadium – both multi-year, multi-million dollar projects.

The university is establishing a reputation for cost-cutting except for areas it deems important to garnering the university a national presence. If the university doesn’t begin focusing on the safety and quality of life concerns of students, I won’t be the only one afraid to walk out of a building on campus.

Editor’s note: The lights outside the GAB were fixed within the last week.

William A. Darnell is a journalism junior. He can be reached at willdarnell@gmail.com.

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