Safety on campus starts with the individual

by Beacon Staff • October 19, 2005

,"The Campus on the Common isn't just host to victory parades and high-class establishments. Lately, the city blocks surrounding our school have also been host to drug deals, a sexual assault and a shooting.

Years ago, Emerson's current campus was no more than a vision. The buildings that so many students now call home were located in the infamous "Combat Zone"-the area around Washington Street, between Kneeland and Boylston streets. The region got its moniker in the 60s and 70s when it was host to strip clubs and adult entertainment complexes.

At one point, according to a 1993 article by USA Today, there were 17 strip clubs in the neighborhood. The crime was so bad that State Rep. Salvatore DiMasi told The Harvard Crimson in 2000 that it was "a dumping ground for pimps and prostitution."

As time passed, Chinatown residents, local politicians and real estate developers vowed more than once to clean up the area.

With the renovation of the Majestic Theatre and the construction of the new Piano Row dormitory, it seemed as though the college's $170 million investment was doing something to reduce crime in the area once known as the seedy underbelly of our city. But in the past few weeks, students have noticed a change in what many have come to regard as their stomping ground.

The former "Combat Zone" is again teeming with old regulars ready to cater to your every (illegal) whim.

Prostitutes have become so common that potential "Johns" have mistaken some Emerson students for streetwalkers and the amount of drug peddlers on the street corners has increased considerably.

The once-safe confines of Emerson's campus have been torn down by the harsh reality of life in the city.

It is of the utmost importance that the Boston Police Department (BPD) and Emerson work together to find some solutions to the problems that have been so visible as of late. More importantly, however, students need to take action as well.

We live in a city-our campus is not the sprawling green of a suburban university. The Common is not our personal playground and we do not own these streets.

The drug dealers and prostitutes don't belong on our street corner-or any other-but students need to take care of themselves. We cannot rely on the BPD or assume that Public Safety officers are nearby.

The common-sense advice that freshmen were given at orientation applies to everyone: Don't walk in the Common or the Public Garden after dark, avoid alleys and poorly-lighted streets, walk with groups of people and, most importantly, stay safe.

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