In recent days, the news media has reported about robberies in a neighborhood adjacent to campus and our policies for campus housing. We want to provide you with additional information that we hope will answer questions you might have.
Robberies in adjacent neighborhood
The UA Police Department, the Akron Police Department, the Summit County Drug Enforcement Unit and other agencies are working cooperatively to solve a number of armed robberies that have occurred in the neighborhood south of East Exchange Street since August. Though there have been no incidents in the last week, police are continuing their increased patrols and additional activities in the neighborhood.
In most of the cases, the victims have been approached from behind between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. The attackers seem to work in pairs, but victims' descriptions of the attackers has varied — some reported it was two while males, others said it was two black males or a combination of both. In one case, it was a man and a woman. They are often wearing hoodies.
UA Police Chief Paul Callahan offers these safety tips to students:
- Use the campus escort service. Patrol members will escort you between campus locations from 5 p.m. to midnight when school is in session. Call 330-972-7263 to request the service.
- Walk in a group, if possible.
- Park in well-lit areas.
- If you feel threatened, cross the street, find an emergency phone, or enter a store or business. There are about 50 emergency phones on campus, distinguished by their blue lights. Operational around the clock, the phones connect directly to the UA police dispatcher.
- Have your keys in hand as you approach your car. Check the back seat before you enter.
- Alcohol and other drugs can impair your perceptions and decision-making. Do not place yourself in a vulnerable position by being intoxicated or under the influence of other drugs.
- Program the University's emergency line into your cell phone: 330-972-7123. Or call 9-1-1.
The 45-year-old student with a criminal record who was the focus of the Akron Beacon Journal article has been suspended from the University and its residence halls. We did so immediately upon being made aware of his arrest, which happened off campus.
Even before this incident, the University had begun developing a policy to require students who are applying for on-campus housing to report any felony convictions. This will help us address safety concerns that students and parents have, and, at the same time, help us meet state law that permits people with criminal convictions who have paid their debts to society to have access to higher education as a means to assume more productive roles in society. Though there are a few areas in which certain felony convictions limit one's access within a university — such as employment within a day care center — on-campus housing is generally not one of them. Nationally and in Ohio, universities are attempting to address this issue in a responsible and legal manner.
Some may ask why we do not simply conduct criminal background checks of all who apply to live in on campus. The University of Akron, like many other public universities, does not require or conduct criminal background checks on most students, except in a few specific situations — such as student teaching and nursing — when the University is required to do so by law or in connection with state licensure requirements. There is a national debate on the issue of routine criminal background checks of college students, primarily surrounding the logistical, legal, social and fiscal repercussions in implementing such a procedure. For example, there is no single, accessible database or agency that will disclose all of any person's arrests and convictions nationwide, which makes any background check unreliable.
Safety is a top priority on campus, as evidenced by the resources devoted to maintaining order and security. We have a highly trained staff in each of the residence halls on duty at all hours to help ensure student safety and well-being. On campus, our overall safety record is statistically comparable to that of many suburbs. As mentioned earlier, we have an on-campus police department with 35 officers that provides around-the-clock security. We also have a patrol service available every school night that will escort students between campus locations.
Please be assured that we will continue to work hard to provide a safe learning environment for you.
The UA Communications Staff