Fear on Campus?

Friday, November 11, 2011
By: Luis Alberto Rivera Santiago

“Move and I’ll stab your back.” These words heard Christian Claudio, Computer Engineering Bachelor Student at The University of Puerto Rico (UPR), while walking from “El Calvario” to his apartment around 5:00 p.m. Friday March 25, 2011.

“A tall strong black haired tanned man. He stole my credential information, money, cell phone, mp3 and what is more important, he stole my tranquility.” Christian, well known as CJ, was a mug victim as many other students have been. Lately the University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez campus and its surrounding have become a mugging spot.

“El Calvario” is a lonely place at nights and weekends. Here Christian Claudio were mugged by a man who stole many articles from him and also his tranquility.

Students’ safety has been affected. CJ said that many scholars do not feel comfortable walking on Mayagüez streets anymore. He also said that there are no safe places where they can walk, specially at nights and also on weekends when most students go to their hometowns. After that day, he avoids walking alone because he is afraid of being assaulted again.

Claudio said: “I remember that day. I stayed on campus because I had a meeting with my research team. I left Luis Stefani building and when I went down the stairs of “El Calvario” this man put a knife on my back and threatened me. I thought he would kill me because he was very aggressive. When he took everything, he wounded me and ran away. At that moment, I was laying in shock on the floor. Then a student found me and brought me to the hospital”

Every day after that afternoon CJ tries to overcome the fear of being alone. He says that he does not feel comfortable anymore in the streets. Since May, he has been seeing a psychologist because he is always fearful of someone following him.

Like CJ, there are many other victims. Muggers are stalking students and stealing their properties. Students are concerned about this matter because they do not feel safe while walking on the streets. This is why on Thursday, October 20, the General Student Council (CGE by its Spanish acronym) conducted an informal assembly to hear about students’ safety concerns.

At the assembly, the CGE informed about some assaults and thefts that occurred these past months and exposed safety problems. They had an open panel where students were able to share ideas to deal with the situation on campus and nearby. They exhorted the community to be careful while walking on public areas and to avoid areas without lightning. Also, they talked about how anyone should deal with a mugger. They said that in a situation like that a student should stay calm, evaluate chances of escaping and inform the police about any circumstances.

This was the flyer the General Student Council (CGE) distributed on campus and online to spread the word about the assembly.

Although authorities are trying to inform students and prevent mugging problems, assaults keep happening. In the past three months, around 7 mugging cases on campus and nearby have been reported according to the university surveillance office.

As a matter of fact these acts still occur but as CJ said: “Although nobody is exempt from being attacked, everybody has the power of preventing this by never staying alone in spots where they can be persecuted.” Authorities are trying to ensure the students’ safety, but it is crucial for students to be aware and always careful because this problem is affecting us every day and every minute.

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