Rising crime elevates student anxiety

By Ashleigh Kendrick, Staff Writer

The number of reported crime incidents in Champaign has gradually increased in recent months, and students are becoming worried about their safety on campus.

On Aug. 27, a shooting occurred on Third Street near Tower at Third. The incident left many students weary, like Allyson Kochevar, senior in LAS.

“It makes me very nervous,” Kochevar said. “I enjoy going to the bars, and I have my friend group, and we like to do that, but I don’t think we’ve been to the bar (since).”

Kiki Kitsinis, senior in Media, shared similar concerns. Kitsinis said they are not only hesitant of going out to the bars, but also about living so close to where incidents occur. Kitsinis lives behind The Red Lion, which is close to the location of the Aug. 27 shooting.

“It’s probably one of the most stressful things when you hear gunshots outside your window,” Kitsinis said.

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Kitsinis explained that at first, she thought the gunshots were fireworks, but once she heard police sirens and people shouting, she knew the situation was serious.

“I heard the sirens, and they didn’t stop for a while, then we got the Illini-Alert,” Kitsinis said.

Brennan Taylor, sophomore in LAS, was enjoying his night out when he heard the gunshots. Taylor said after hearing the gunshots, he hurried home.

Taylor said he is also concerned about the increase of crime on campus, with his main concerns being for his female friends.

“I have a lot of female friends who don’t carry around pepper spray, and that worries me a little bit more,” Taylor said. “If you have pepper spray, there’s a better chance of you getting out of a situation without being harmed, but if not, it’s a little more difficult.”

Alice Cary, chief of the University of Illinois Police Department, said she is aware of the concerns of parents and students alike, and the UIPD is taking various measures to ensure safety on campus.

Cary said the UIPD is trying to implement more proactive measures on campus to deter criminal activities from occurring.

“We’re trying to be as visible as possible,” Cary said. “When people see a law enforcement officer, people tend to straighten up a little bit.”

Cary also said there are nearly 2,300 cameras on campus that are utilized to deter crime. Although the cameras are not monitored in real time, Cary said they are still very useful.

“That’s more of an after-the-fact tool, but that too can be a deterrent to people because they know that they’re going to be known when they’re acting as criminals or doing criminal activities,” Cary said.

Although new technology is being implemented on campus, Cary recommends students travel in groups and in well-lit areas.

On top of the new technology and increased presence of officers, Cary said the UIPD is still looking for more technological opportunities to utilize on campus. Cary said they are open to suggestions on technology or how to improve as a department.

“That’s our job, really — to make sure that we can have a great experience here,” Cary said. “We can’t be everywhere at once, but we’re certainly trying.”


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