Those Annoying, Useless Safety Tips
This week, the Dean of Students' Office keenly observed in a flyer that "Students should be aware that there have been incidents involving armed, potentially dangerous criminals who have victimized students in the area of the Yard. Be mindful that this is an urban environment that poses hazards from criminals." (I actually thought Cambridge to be a very rural suburb where there are no potentially dangerous people; glad to say I know the real truth). "Be cautious and please call the H.U.P.D. for assistance. Response will be immediate."
The Dean of Students' Office sure is quick to respond with these helpful insights for Harvard students. I can only hope that the rapidity with which this office responds is the same with which the Harvard University Police Department responds when I call them after I have been aware of my surroundings and I have seen a suspicious person.
In addition, I should add that this memorable and very helpful flyer was written in all caps, in a bold and enlarged font and included bulleted suggestions to further facilitate our comprehension of the extremely intricate and innovative recommendations provided by this office. This lovely flyer was posted, I assume, all over the campus houses so that all students could enjoy and be proud of the University's rapid response to increasing crime in this urban area.
I thought that I would take the time to go through each of the five brilliant suggestions provided to students just so I could outline how helpful they really have been in creating the new way in which I will walk down the street and carry myself through this frightful urban environment. After all, being born and raised in New York City (is that urban too, Dean of Students' Office?) has in no way affected the way I deal with the Cambridge environment.
*"Be aware of your surroundings." In other words, don't be a space cadet. If you are walking down the street and happen to spot an individual with a knife and a gun (as we so often happen to do--more often, I should add, than the police officers), be aware of them and understand that they too, along with the trees, flowers and Widener Library, are part of your surroundings.
*"Walk down well-lit areas, paths and streets." Because sometimes at 3:50 p.m. (the time around which an actual student was attacked outside of Lamont this week) there are certain areas, especially right outside of Lamont, where, although the sun is bright and it is broad daylight everywhere else, an eclipse has occurred and there is no light. Also, since I normally seek out dark alleys (it is a part of trying to be aware of my surroundings, I should say) to walk through, this is particularly helpful to me.
*"Lock all doors... We want two locked doors between you and the street." You do? Then why do so many houses keep one entryway open for the whole day? Seems to me that helps these urban criminals become aware of our surroundings as well.
"Suspicious persons: Call the University Police." Wait a minute, does this mean that all persons who look suspicious should call the police or does this mean that if I see a suspicious person, I should call the police? If the latter is true, then I should probably stop talking to all those people I see carrying those knives when I am being aware of my surroundings and should instead promptly call the police. Good tip.
*"Use Shuttle bus service..." It doesn't come to Kirkland. Maybe I should use Safety Walk because two victims are better than one. Or better yet, I'll use the "taxi style" escort service because I can just stand right outside of Lamont at 1 a.m., where a student was robbed this week, for about half and hour until they decide to come pick me up.
I would just like to thank the Dean of Students' Office for pointing out the obvious to people who don't get it. And the information looked so nice in that enlarged and bold font! Who is your graphic designer? I suppose the flyer which highlights all of the increases in patrol cars and university police will be up in my house next week.
Nancy Raine Reyes' Column appears on alternate Saturdays.