Fighting campus crime is no small task. Ask anyone for potential solutions, and you’ll get a completely different take on the matter every time. It’s a touchy subject, one with many possible solutions and polarizing views. So, how do we combat it?
One way is to start by looking at the hard numbers. According to crime logs kept by the UNCG police and campus crime website collegefactual.com, illegal alcohol possession and burglary account for the most abundant criminal activity reported on campus.
This gives us a place to start. Burglary is usually a crime motivated by poverty and necessity. Solutions, then, would come from ways to alleviate this poverty—something that would be tricky for the University on its own, but not impossible.
If many of the burglaries are executed by UNCG students, one solution would be to offer more campus jobs to students, and at higher wages. If students are making enough money to live without struggle, they probably won’t resort to breaking into people’s homes or residences.
Another solution would be to make all textbooks free for students, and available to them digitally. In a study of over 2,000 students in 33 states and 156 different campuses, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group found the average student spends around $1,200 each year on textbooks alone. This is money that could be spent on food, rent, and other necessities.
These solutions would certainly be costly, but no more so than the new 91-million-dollar recreation center. The quality of student life, in regards to keeping crime down, should take priority when it comes to university spending.
Illegal possession of alcohol, on the other hand, may not seem as dangerous as something like burglary, but there is plenty of evidence which points to the contrary.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice and the Bureau of Justice Statistics, alcohol consumption can be clearly linked to almost all forms of criminal activity, and a further study at the Institute of Criminology at the University of Cambridge found that there was an overwhelming connection between the consumption of alcohol and the act of committing burglary.
This study suggests that the unlawful possession of alcohol (drinking underage, with an open container in public, while driving, etc.) is no small crime, and that it presents a clear and present danger to all students on campus. It is the most abundantly reported crime within the university, making the situation even more urgent.
Even if we put aside the criminal element of alcohol in these situations, it is clear that it constitutes also a major health risk. Alcohol is the most commonly used drug in this country, and our university campus reflects this perfectly.
A study by Healthline, found that, even when only drinking a little, and irregularly, our bodies still take considerable damage to the nervous, digestive, circulatory, skeletal, muscular, and immune systems—especially over long periods of time.
It is only common sense, then, that UNCG should make it so that the purchase and acquisition of alcohol is far more difficult for all students, not just those that are underage. This must be done for safety and health reasons. If students of legal age have trouble getting it, they will then have trouble passing it off to their under-aged friends, and will be doing their bodies a great favor.
This should, in part, be achieved by completely restricting the sale and advertisement of alcohol in stores and restaurants near campus. This is not a total solution, but it is a good start.
Another good idea would be to provide certain benefits and rewards to students who pass regular tests proving that they have not engaged in heavy drinking (a hair follicle test can tell if one has consumed any considerable amount of alcohol 90 days prior to the testing). These rewards should be considerable.
However, all these hypothetical policy solutions fall short if one crucial element relating to campus crime is not further addressed: the campus police.
It is a considerable problem that the police are so insulated and separated from the student body they are supposed to protect and serve. Clearly, there needs to be more active involvement between the UNCG Police and the students. Creating a separate body of the UNCG Police composed entirely of students could help to connect them more to the campus, while offering job opportunities to students.
Potential solutions aside, we are seeing an epidemic on and off campus, a cycle of crime, largely motivated by poverty. This requires radical action, which the university seems unlikely to take. The pressure then, unfair as it may be, falls upon the students. If we are brave enough to stand up for unpopular policies such as these, change will surely follow.