by Max Brantley
UALR Chancellor Joel Anderson sent a note around to the campus about a recent robbery. Perfect pitch.
For nearly all of us -- every minute, every day, everywhere -- the odds are small that we'll be victims of crime. You can be smart, alert and careful without living in constant fear.
FROM CHANCELLOR JOEL ANDERSON
As has been reported both on campus and in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, last Wednesday morning Jerry Bell, an employee in the UALR Institute for Economic Advancement, was attacked from behind by two teens while walking in front of the Fine Arts Building. He fell to the ground and suffered a concussion and broken nose and broken jaw.
The attack was utterly unprovoked and senseless. The two teens were apprehended later Wednesday afternoon.
I spoke to Jerry yesterday and he is recovering and was to see his doctor to begin treatment of the nose and jaw.
Such an event raises questions about campus safety. If by safe place one means that there never has been and never will be criminal activity or violence, there is no safe place. Your home? Channel 7’s Anne Pressley was recently murdered in her home in the Heights. In your house of worship? In small town Arkansas? In schools? In restaurants? On other campuses in Arkansas? At homes in the countryside? One does not have to search back through many days of newspapers to find violence in all these settings.
On campus we continue to implement recommendations offered last summer by the Chancellor’s Special Task Force on Public Safety, an external advisory group with much relevant expertise. The task force concluded that we had a safe environment and offered a number of steps we could take to enhance that environment. We added two security officers this year and will add additional ones; we are gating the Campus Drive entrance off of Asher Avenue as well as Lot 12 east of the parking deck. We are evaluating additional emergency communications systems. None of these steps alone assures safety. However, when added to the measures already in place, each additional step has a positive cumulative effect.
Although it may not seem to compute immediately following a random personal attack, university campuses, including this one, are among the safest places in the country to live and work.
Each of us is entitled to our own sense of safety and should act accordingly. For what it is worth, let me offer a personal perspective. Ann and I live on campus in a house with no fence, gate, or guard—only an alarm system. We enjoy living on campus. I personally walk all over the campus, and sometimes the Oak Forest Neighborhood, during the week days and weekends. In the evenings I come and go on foot around campus. Without hesitation I will continue to do so.