N.O. safety a concern

New Orleans (Nov. 15, 2012) РIt is no clich̩ to say that violence occurs everywhere. Never a day begins that a news story is not published about some type of violence occurring near or far.

New Orleans has long been known as being a dangerous city. In the most recent FBI crime statistics, the city’s murder rate went up while the national murder rate went down. Therefore, it is no surprise that students who decide to attend colleges in New Orleans take the time to redirect their attention from academics to crime statistics.

Although no violent crimes have been reported on Dillard’s campus this year, the university has been affected by outside violence. One of our own Dillard freshmen, Marguerite Washington, a freshman nursing major from New Orleans, was tragically taken from us in an unnecessary act of violence Oct. 1. Washington was shot to death as bullets from a semi-automatic weapon were shot through her boyfriend’s window.

The alleged gunman reportedly was a former friend of Washington’s boyfriend who decided to retaliate after a feud escalated between the two men.

This tragedy truly shines a light on how close danger lurks so near despite the wrought-iron gates that surround our school. An informal poll of some students find opinions mixed on how safe we feel in New Orleans. (See “Word on the Ave” on the next page.)

Despite the fact that New Orleans is a dangerous city, it is impossible to recommend that all students stay in their rooms for the remainder of their stay at Dillard. It is more reasonable to offer safety tips in order to protect yourself from the violence that occurs on a daily basis. Here’s what experts suggest:

  • Use your common sense.When something seems unsettling about a situation there could be something wrong. Follow your first mind and either leave or do not go at all.
  • Try not to walk alone at night.If you find yourself having to do so, make sure you carry pepper spray or mace just as a means of protection. Also try to walk in well-lit areas where multiple people can see you.
  • Always have a friend go with you. Never travel anywhere around the city alone especially when you do not know where you are going. Stay out of neighborhoods and places you are not familiar with.
  • Make sure your phone is fully charged. As you go out with your friends, make sure at least one of you has a fully charged phone in case of an emergency.
  • Always tell somebody where you are going.No one wants somebody in their business. However, by telling someone where you are going and what time they should expect you back ensures that someone will notice if you have not returned and will be looking for you.
  • Do NOT think it can’t happen to you.In no means do we suggest should you live in fear, but don’t be naïve. Always be cautious of your surroundings and the people around you. Pay particular attention to detail and always be prepared in case of an emergency.
  • Do not allow anyone into your residence hall that you don’t know. If you have never seen this person before, do not let them into your dorm or apartment complex. Lock the door, and alert the residence assistant on duty or call campus police.
  • Make sure to store the Campus Safety number in your phone.

Dillard University’s Office of Public Safety provides a staff of armed officers who monitor and patrol the campus 24 hours a day. For emergencies, call (504) 816-4911; for non-emergencies,  (504) 816-5310. The main office is located next to Gentilly Gardens behind the library, (504) 816-4775.

Always remember that being in the wrong place at the wrong time can cost you your life. To have a safe and happy stay in New Orleans, please be mindful.