Volume 47, Number 4 - October 5, 2009

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Rebeka Silva
Rebeka Silva

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Campus Crime Becoming Harder to Prevent

By Rebeka Silva

On Sept. 17, Valentina Alvizua, an Honors College student at Miami Dade College had her black Honda Civic stolen from lot 15 at the North Campus.

“It’s a horrible feeling to leave school and [you] can’t find your car,” Alvizua said. “You have a knot in your stomach.”

Alvizua’s Civic was found later that night with a destroyed dashboard and no ignition.

Whether it’s car theft, a physical confrontation, or a vandalized vending machine, campus crime is becoming harder to prevent at schools across the country.

Lately there have been numerous incidents involving school violence, such as the Coral Gables High School stabbing death and a murder at Yale University.

“Random acts of violence… are almost not preventable,” Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said to the Miami Herald in a story about the Coral Gables High School stabbing death.

If random acts of violence can’t be prevented on campus, then what can be done for the students’ peace of mind?

At the North Campus, according to the MDC public safety website, there is one chief of public safety, one assistant chief, one sergeant and one corporal per shift to cover 245 acres of land on campus.

The number of public safety officers is unclear because North Campus Chief of Public Safety Therese Homer, could not provide the exact figure, only stating: “We don’t know that information because it’s always fluctuating.”

With 245 acres to cover, public safety can’t be everywhere on campus.

Many students like Camille Gregory, a 19-year-old English major, said they do not see enough security presence.

“I don’t see them around,” Gregory said. “If I was taking night classes I wouldn’t want to walk to my car alone.”

Public safety offers a service that allows students to call and ask for an escort to their car if they do not feel safe.

Homer has also been proactive, instituting the first Crime Watch program at any of the eight MDC campuses. The program is made up of faculty, staff and students that serve as extra eyes and ears to assist public safety on campus.

“Crime Watch is our proactive way to keeping the students safe,” said Malou Harrison, North Campus dean of students.

With students, faculty and staff getting involved, the odds are higher to stop crime or violence before it can happen, college officials said.

Maurice Williams, manager of administrative services, said that along with students and staff helping with Crime Watch, MDC also has a close connection with the Miami-Dade Police Department.

“Dean Mateo, Chief Homer and myself meet with the Miami-Dade Police Department chief and three of their supervisors for closer coordination for operational purposes,” Williams said.

Along with Crime Watch and public safety, during the early morning and late evenings there is always an off-duty police officer on campus that is paid by MDC.

Eddy Jackson, 18, a criminal justice major said that he does not feel unsafe at school but thinks that students need to do a better job of keep themselves protected.

“I don’t think the school can solve the problem [crime],” Jackson said. “They can try to contain it and we can help.”

North Campus officials employ a variety of different methods to try and keep students safe, but students need to be careful and aware of their surroundings.

“Being aware and identifying unsafe areas and avoiding them is going to be a big contributor to the students safety,” Harrison said.

Harrison added: “We want everyone to be involved in campus safety. It’s the only way it works.”

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Miami Dade College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award associate and baccalaureate degrees.
Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of Miami Dade College.
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Contact the Office of Director, Equal Opportunity Programs, ADA and Title IX Coordinator, at 305.237.2577 for assistance.