East Campus has students fearing for their safety at night

A year after petitioning for more lights, East Campus safety is still in question

Sophomore Amanda Krewson has defended herself with pepper spray twice while walking on East Campus at night.

While walking to and from her car that she parks by East Campus, Krewson was approached by two different men on separate occasions.

“(The men) both actually tried to come into contact with me in ways that I was not comfortable with,” Krewson said. “And after me telling them no, I had to use physical force like pushing them away, and when they continued to come towards me, I would have to use pepper spray.”

Krewson said she would never live on East Campus because of the amount of crime that happens in the area. Senior Sarah Sprick, an East Campus resident, has lived on East Campus for a year and a half and said she feels just as uncomfortable in her environment as she did last year.

Sprick said the amount of sexual assaults on East Campus is startling.

“I don’t think people really realize how many (sexual assaults) go unreported and the amount that are reported is ridiculous,” Sprick said. “It’s like the administration freaks out about it for a day and sends an email about Title IX and then just brushes it under the rug.”

This isn’t the first time students have spoken about their fear of East Campus not being a safe place to be while it is dark outside. Last December, Sprick began a petition for a large amount of updated street lights to be put on the East Campus streets.

“I never walk anywhere alone at night,” Sprick said. “I definitely don’t feel safe walking the streets here at night.”

Krewson said that after having to use pepper spray twice, she is considering buying a taser, but she would feel safer if there were more and brighter street lights on East Campus to be able to better protect herself.

Many sexual assaults, burglaries and robberies happen in the East Campus area, and some students believe that these crimes happen during the night since there is a lack of street lights.

Both Krewson and Sprick said they think East Campus has been lacking a police presence in the past year.

“I think a lot of the police here focus more on drinking and Greektown, which is great, it’s good that they monitor (drinking and Greektown),” Sprick said. “But it’s very rare that you see police driving around here.”

Bryana Larimer, Columbia Police Department’s Public Information Officer, said that CPD officers are given specific areas, known as beats, in the city of Columbia to patrol and respond to calls in that area when needed. The East Campus area is Beat 70 Larimer said.

Larimer said CPD encourages people to never walk home alone, but if it’s necessary, they should call someone and make sure to walk in areas with substantial light.

“The other … tip that I would provide would be (to) make sure that if you are going to walk home alone that you have some sort of noise maker,” Larimer said. “That could include a whistle of some sort. That could include maybe having your keys in your hand or having your cell phone close by so you could dial 911 should anything happen.”

Sexual assault isn’t the only crime common on East Campus, Sprick said. According to City Data’s website, in 2013, there were 67 reported rapes in Columbia, a 63 percent increase from 2012, robberies and burglaries are also prevalent.

In 2013, there were 112 reported robberies and 703 reported burglaries in Columbia. However, compared to the amount reported in 2012 there was a 31 percent decrease in robberies and a 10 percent decrease in burglaries, according to City Data.

Larimer said burglary prevention is an issue CPD strongly supports throughout the year and is aware that duplexes are often where burglaries happen. She said CPD encourages people to keep their residence or business well-lit and to install an alarm and keep doors and windows locked.

Sprick, however, said she doesn’t believe those tips are enough to prevent burglaries.

“Just this week I’ve been hearing that a lot of people’s houses have been getting broken into,” Sprick said. “People are stealing screens off of houses and trying to break into houses. So it's definitely not just people not locking their doors.”

“I definitely don’t think that it has gotten better,” Sprick said. “I think there is just a general lack of safety living on East Campus, especially for women, but definitely for everyone.”

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