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Keeping Students Safe

The University should inform students uniformly and quickly when assaults occur on campus

By The Crimson Staff

In early October of this year, three females were sexually assaulted just blocks from the Quad. A little over a month ago, an unidentifed man groped an undergraduate while she was walking through Cambridge Common. Last week, an unidentified man struck a student from behind with a blunt object, forced her to the ground and sexually assaulted her in the parking lot of St. Paul’s Church. The victim count is up to five—and we’re only in December.

Unfortunately, the St. Paul’s church perpetrator was never caught. Yet even with this threat to the Harvard community still at-large, the administration has failed to disseminate a uniform warning to all students. While some Houses notified their students about the attack through e-mail, the timing of student notification varied from House to House, and some Houses have yet to officially inform their residents that the attack occurred.

This is not the first time that the administration has failed to inform the campus of such dangers. Just last February, after two stabbing-robberies occurred within three blocks of the Quad, it took almost a week for the University to circulate a community advisory about the incidents.

The administration must make campus safety a higher—and more visible—priority. Students need to be informed sooner of such incidents, and Harvard must publicly commit to institute more precautionary measures to prevent incidents like this in the future. The St. Paul’s parking lot attack should be investigated further and students—who spend almost every waking and sleeping hour in and around campus—should be included in any dialogue about safety at Harvard.

The sexual assault last week was particularly disconcerting given that the St. Paul’s parking lot is such a popular shortcut to Dunster and Mather Houses. While students might like to believe that the campus is a completely safe environment, the incidents of this past year clearly indicate otherwise. Students need to be aware of these crimes immediately so that they may exercise discretion and be more conscious of their surroundings when walking around Cambridge at night. By not fully and immediately addressing these safety realities, the administration is making life on campus all the more unsafe.

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