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Feeling of safety under fire on Downtown Phoenix campus

The security bubble that I was living in has been shattered and I have been forced to face a reality that is all too real.

Up until recently, the thought of being a victim in a serious crime at the Downtown Phoenix campus was a mirage — it was an urban legend made up by the Tempe campus to scare us journalists.

I have been given every statistic there is about the safety of the downtown area both by the Dean of Student Affairs Kimberly Novak and by the inhabitants of the area. The fears that I had originally had about the campus faded when I was told that there were less crimes per capita in downtown Phoenix than in Tempe.

The presence of officers and police aids also helps to ease any fears. Many residents, myself included, even know some of the security guards or police aids by name.

The security features in the new Taylor Place dormitory has also helped give the illusion of safety — students must use their Sun Card to access the building after 7 p.m., to enter the turnstiles that lead to the elevators and to summon an elevator. There is also a 24-hour security desk with strict check-in rules for visitors.

Overall, the security at Taylor Place is a lot more exhaustive than at any of the Tempe dorms.

So far, I had loved the Downtown campus more than the Tempe campus — I liked the small atmosphere, the close proximity of my classes and I felt safe here. But I had an alarming wake up call in the dorm in the form of two bullet holes in the north side of the Cronkite building.

Early Sunday morning, gunshots were fired from Fillmore Street, the road just north of Taylor Place, said 19-year-old Tommy Miller, a witness to the crime. Miller, a journalism major, said he was leaving Taylor Place about to go home when he heard four to six rounds fired.

When the sound of the shots became more audible, Miller and his friend ran into Taylor Place and called 911. And what happened when Miller told the security guard in Taylor Place? Nothing.

“The security guard sat there on the phone,” Miller said. “Either with the cops or their supervisor, I don’t know.”

Is this really the response we are to expect from the people guarding our safety?

Though there probably isn’t much else a security guard can do, them just being on the phone with the police isn’t very reassuring — I can do that with my cell phone and I’m not being paid for it.

And what’s the police response to this incident? Well, nobody was hurt so there’s really not much of an investigation into who ruined a few windows on the side of a building. Understandably, Phoenix police have a lot more on their plate than some random drive by shooting that occurred on ASU’s campus.

But with all the security that has been put in place, it still doesn’t feel like enough. Taylor Place isn’t bullet proof and I doubt our security guards are armed in case of another assault.

We need more. If we are ever going to maintain this growing campus, we need a better plan in place for these kinds of incidents.

Yet even with new developments, I doubt I can ever feel the same security I felt in my naivety. Once you wake up from the dream, it’s hard to ever capture it again.

Rachel can be reached by e-mail at

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