University in denial over campus safety

As the elected student senator for parking and safety at Fresno State, I feel it is my obligation to address Vice President of Student Affairs Paul Oliaro’s propaganda and campaign of denial regarding campus safety issues at Fresno State.

This week, the university has attempted to convince the community that the issue of campus safety is not as bad as it may appear.

It is my belief that the majority of the student population at Fresno State believes that the university’s administration is in absolute denial about the safety concerns of students regardless of national rankings.

Student government representatives constantly hear first-hand stories from our constituency that supports our belief that this campus is plagued with bike thefts, burglaries, robberies — just to name a few.

I am unaware of another campus such as Fresno State that has experienced multiple robberies at gunpoint, shootings occurring in fraternity houses by gang members, and an incident where a sexual predator assaulted a female student in the campus library, all within the period of one year.

Our student email accounts receive an outrageous amount of crime alert announcements released by the university’s police department detailing incidents that relate to campus crime. Fresno State is only kidding itself by stating that this campus is safe.

It is especially unfortunate that the Fresno State Police Department refuted its own crime reporting statistics as a way to parrot the university’s position on the matter. University police have a one-mile jurisdiction around the official campus border, where a vast majority of students live and commute to and from school, which is why crime statistics regarding Fresno State should include the immediate area around the campus.

Fresno State’s denial of the real safety issues that exist on and adjacent to the campus is insulting to students that have been victims of crime, but its administration continues to downplay the seriousness of this matter.

To add more hypocrisy to the issue, the Fresno State administration, through issuing a press release to the media, attempted to reflect itself in a positive light rather than informing the students about campus crime issues.

Olario paid lip service to the issue of student safety by addressing Business Insider’s reissued crime rankings across the U.S. by stating, “This revision provides a more accurate assessment of the safety of our campus and reinforces our students’ perceptions that they feel safe.”

Oliaro made this statement merely hours before another violent shooting took place on campus Thursday evening.

If it really were true that Fresno State is considered to be a safe campus, there would be no need for a Campus Police Department with so many officers. If it were true that crime is not an issue at Fresno State, the Revitalize the Fresno State Community Movement would be unnecessary. If it were true crime was not an issue at Fresno State, the senator position in ASI representing parking and safety issues would be unnecessary.

The reality is that the Fresno State campus area does have a serious crime problem, which ASI is well aware of and I am not denying this fact — unlike Fresno State’s administration. Students should be outraged that campus administrators are practicing “spin control” and downplaying a serious matter by promoting propaganda at the expense of jeopardizing students’ safety at Fresno State.

  • Dan

    Crime problems in the vicinity of campus have existed for 40 years. When I was an undergraduate (1975-78) and grad (1986-1990) student, thefts and burglaries were rampant. In the late 1970s a serial rapist worked the apartments adjacent to campus. When I worked for Fresno PD in the day, well over a third of the thefts and vehicle burglaries I wrote came out of the campus area.

    When I lived at Bulldog Village it was not fenced and the assistant managers were the night security. We also had a vehicle theft and burglary problem. After the kidnapping and near murder of a female resident, a security company was hired. The guards initially were unarmed but as violence escalated in the early 1990s they were armed and the complex was eventually fenced.

    Asian gang members dominated the neighborhood and drive by killings abounded in the early/mid 1990s. Every so often the gang violence would slop over onto campus. One night two opposing groups of Asian kids confronted each other in the USU. a gun was pulled, setting off a running gunfight through the middle of campus. For a number of years you had to show University identification to get into the USU on weekend nights. The Friday night dances at the SSU also were a focal point for off campus people to come cause problems.

    Given the fact a college campus is open, there will always be problems. The security hardening I’ve seen stands in stark contrast to the campus of the early 1990s and earlier. The UPD has, in my opinion, done an excellent job of responding to problems on and off campus.

    Bottom line is, Fresno State lies in the middle of a ghetto, very much like USC. Add to that the unpalatable truth that most crime is not preventable unless people seeing suspicious people and things pick up the phone and get campus police involved.

  • Peter Piper

    I think it is ridiculous the Administration won’t admit there is an issue. They are more concerned for their image than the actual safety of students on an surrounding this campus.

  • Lucas Lundy

    Agreed. Students should be informed on safety issues on campus not be lied to by administrators. It sucks but it’s the truth and now everyone in the nation knows it. Last October I was held up at gunpoint by four individuals on Millbrook just outside of fraternity mall.
    My laptop was stolen from my bedroom this weekend out of my fraternity house and I heard this morning that a friend of mine’s got stolen from his bedroom in his fraternity house as well.

  • Belen

    Here, here. I believe we are all aware of the crime that goes on, as is the administration. Instead of denying the matter, I would be happy to hear ways they feel that they will better attend to this in the future. I have personally had my car stolen off this campus in broad daylight, and so I know firsthand how it feels to not feel safe on your own campus. All I want to know is how they are going to try to lessen the crime rates.

  • Dan

    Well, given the fact Public Safety is the only area that has not been cut during four years of severe budget woes, I believe the administration considers this a priority. Unfortunately the primary law enforcement agency off campus (including Greek Mall) is not University Police but Fresno PD.

    Fresno PD has gone from 850 officers to 735 in three years of budget cuts. Chief Dyer openly admits his agency is no longer a full service police department. That translates into decreased levels of service. It now takes days to have an officer respond to a past-occurred property crime with no suspects present.

    Granted, University Police have attempted to take up the slack. But their primary responsibility is campus not the areas surrounding it. If you’re unhappy with off campus policing, take it up with the Mayor and Chief Dyer. Recent news out of the spaceship (City Hall) is that the city may not be able to make payroll in the spring. Can we say the City of Fresno is essentially bankrupt.

    Finally, people should use common sense. Hosting a party where you don’t know all the people there? Lock everything up or better yet, don’t invite people you don’t know to your bash-advice the Santa Barbara Sheriff gives new arrivals in Isla Vista every year. Strangers aren’t always friendly. Wandering around Greek Mall late at night by one’s self? Not the safest thing to do.