Loyola held the State of the Neighborhood Safety Forum on Feb. 16 in order to let students, faculty and local residents voice concerns and clear up issues about the safety of Rogers Park and the Loyola campus. This panel came after a Loyola student was shot on N. Clark Street in January.
In addition, with many students planning to live off campus for the first time next year, an incident like this and others can make some students a bit uneasy.
Sophomore Alexa Jackson lives in San Francisco Hall, and she thinks living on campus is safer than living off campus because she doesn’t have to walk through the neighborhood on her way to and from classes.
“I can walk through campus to get [to] places,” said Jackson. “I never really have to go off campus if I’m by myself.”
However, Jackson said she’s not opposed to living off campus.
“I am trying to live off campus next year … but I am looking for somewhere that’s close,” said Jackson.
Jackson’s main safety concern is having to walk alone through the neighborhood, she said.
“I feel safe when I travel in groups, especially if there are guys in the group,” said Jackson, a 20-year-old marketing major, “but traveling by myself, I never feel safe.”
Off-Campus Living Seminar is a mandatory course for students transitioning from on-campus to off-campus housing at Loyola. The seminar teaches participants how to find roommates, research apartments, sign a lease and address off-campus apartment challenges.
Seamus McMahon is a senior who lives in an off-campus apartment near the Morse Red Line station. He said that although walking home a night can be a bit sketchy, it’s nothing too bad.
“I’ve never felt my safety was in jeopardy,” said the 21-year-old. “I’ve never been in that situation where I’m looking behind my shoulder.”
McMahon has lived off campus since the spring of his junior year. He thinks situational awareness is essential to staying safe.
“You just kind of have to look alive and use those city-street smarts,” said McMahon, a theater major.
McMahon said he thinks students who come from cities have an easier time transitioning to off-campus housing than students who don’t come from big city areas. He has desk security in his apartment now, which he didn’t have his sophomore year living in Marquette Hall, and he said he could live without it.
“I was definitely more comfortable [than other students] with … not having a front desk … because I’m from Evanston,” said McMahon.
Hannah Norton, another senior living off campus, is from a Detroit suburb. She said she prefers desk security as an added safety measure and sometimes feels unsafe not having it in her apartment.
“The whole ‘scanning-in’ system makes me feel more secure,” said Norton, a 21-year-old marketing major.
Regarding the student shot on N. Clark Street Jan. 22, Commander Roberto Nieves said awareness of surroundings sometimes isn’t enough to prevent bad situations from occurring.
Nieves said although the student was in the “wrong place at the wrong time,” she was “not a target.”
Campus Safety Director Thomas Murray added that it was an unforeseen tragedy.
Joe Moore, alderman of the 49th Ward, assured that despite the few significant incidents, Rogers Park remains “one of the safest police districts in Chicago.” He said students cannot let perceived fear get in the way of taking advantage of what the neighborhood has to offer.
“You miss out on a lot of really neat activities,” said Moore. “And … if that fear is shared by others and people don’t come out, it just makes the neighborhood that much more dangerous.”