The rumors are true: stealing is now an issue on the University of Dallas campus. Thefts on campus have significantly increased in the 2015-2016 school year compared to previous years. In fact, according to the Campus Safety Office (CSO) incident reports, there have been more reports of theft this semester alone than in the past three years combined.
That’s a problem.
Not only that, but of the 15 thefts reported on campus since August, four have occurred in the Church of the Incarnation. If you thought God’s house was a place of repose and safety, think again. Right now it’s a very dangerous place to leave belongings.
While it is unpleasant that we are living among thieves here on campus, it is the reality, and we must face it accordingly. The saddest part about the whole situation, in my opinion, is the damage it does to students’ trust in each other.
At UD, people leave their things lying around campus all the time, and until this year this was rarely a problem. Whether as a placeholder to reserve a favorite spot in the Cap Bar, or so as to avoid constantly lugging thesis books in and out of the library, or even to avoid taking your backpack with you into the pew at Mass, leaving things unattended has been the status quo on campus for as long as I can remember.
“The trust we all have for each other is such a distinctly UD experience; it’s sad that it’s vanishing,” said senior Keelin des Rosiers, whose car was broken into earlier this semester.
In the face of these unfortunate events, we must ask: what do we do now? How as a campus do we respond to this problem?
First, we need concrete action on the part of the school to combat theft.
Several students who have had their belongings stolen this semester expressed a desire to see an increased effort from administration to increase security, while others specifically mentioned CSO in their remarks, hoping that they would “step up their game” and “stop acting like the thefts are unfortunate accidents.”
“One of the greatest problems is that CSO is just as or even more trusting than the students,” said one student whose belongings had been stolen from the chapel, who wished to remain anonymous.
“They want to assume the best, but honestly definite measures need to be taken.”
What sort of actions could help to fix this issue? Some options include installing security cameras in places that currently have none, putting lockers somewhere on campus as safe places for students to stash their stacks of books, or even just more careful patrol of high-crime areas. What’s important is that we not sit still and wait for the thefts to stop. No change will come without concrete action.
At the same time, it goes without saying that students should be more careful about leaving valuables laying around. Senior Elizabeth Kerin thought being able to trust other students to respect unattended items may be a luxury we will have to live without.
“Having my phone stolen was a really healthy reminder that if I want to keep my things safe I need to take personal responsibility for them, because it can’t be someone else’s responsibility,” Kerin said in an email.
To what extent is the great increase of robbery and embezzlement our own fault? Are we asking for our belongings to be stolen when we leave them unattended? Kerin is not the only student who thinks that, ultimately, much of the blame falls on us for being careless. Others who have been victims of theft this semester expressed a similar sentiment. And while I do not disagree with them — for we can never be too careful, after all — I do wish we could return to the UD of old.
I remember hearing a story of a student a few years older than me who once left his laptop unattended on a table in the Cap Bar for over a week. When he finally remembered where it was, he went and found it just as he had left it, completely untouched.
That’s the UD so many of us know and love. And I daresay that’s the way things ought to be.