A Chilling Reminder


LAST Wednesday afternoon a woman was raped in an office on one of the upper floors of the Science Center. According to Harvard police, the assailant had access to the deserted upper floors and enough time to hold his victim hostage without anyone catching him.

That this attack could occur, in the middle of the afternoon, in a Harvard building, is a frightening reminder that this campus is not safe. The administration must take immediate action to ensure that members of the Harvard community can use all campus facilities without endangering themselves. In the meantime, Harvard students must recognize the risks of walking or studying alone, and take extra precautions.

The University must immediately provide safe 24-hour study areas, as well as an efficient escort for students to get there. As we move into reading period, there is no secure and quiet place to study in the middle of the night. Even Harvard Police Chief Paul E. Johnson said that the new security measures installed in the Science Center would not prevent future attacks.

CLEARLY, security at the Science Center must be beefed up. The guard service is entirely inadequate. A guard--just changed from a student to a uniformed employee--is posted in the Science Center only after 5 p.m. and must remain at the desk by the elevators. The guard is not able to view the front of the building or the basement computer rooms, where most people study, and, as Johnson pointed out, the guard cannot monitor anyone who walks up the stairs and then takes the elevator to higher floors.

The University should post guards in the building, at all times, who rove through the floors, particularly the quiet upper floors, and who can watch the Cafe and the basement in the evenings. Harvard should post permanent guards at the frequently-used, yet remote study areas on the upper floors and in the basement.


To secure night access, Harvard should install a lock system in the elevators that can only be worked from the guard's desk, so that people would have to call down to the desk in order to gain access to any floor but the first. The stairway should be locked.

THE recent tragedy must trigger even broader reforms in campus-wide security, such as securing other buildings on campus and improving the consistently problematic escort service. Harvard should take this opportunity to institute an all-night service with enough cars to pick up anyone who asks for a ride.

Frequently-travelled routes between the Yard and dormitories should be better lit and guarded. Many of the more remote areas of campus--such as Peabody Terrace, the Law School and the path between Leverett, Dunster and Mather Houses--have had serious security problems in the past, and should be made safer for those who walk there at night.

The Women's Alliance, an umbrella group founded this year for women's organizations on campus, marched for campus safety on Friday. The group has called on the University to make several changes in its security system, all of which should be considered seriously by the Harvard University Police Department and by the administration. Johnson and other administrators should also meet with members of the Women's Alliance, who have already considered these issues, as well as with any other members of the Harvard community who have contributions to make toward a safer campus.

The rape case should force all who live and work here to recognize the risks of walking and studying alone and to work to counteract these risks. Harvard is not an island or a tower, but part of a city, and a dangerous one at that.

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