The University is not an isolated island; it exists within a broader community touched by the same societal threats and challenges as what lies off campus. ASU must extend its duty of care beyond campus boundaries and proactively inform students about incidents in surrounding areas, especially areas considered a staple of the college culture.
The backdrops for January's two off-campus shootings included Fat Tuesday, a popular bar on Mill Avenue, and El Paisano Market, a staple for late-night bites near the GLV. While not technically on campus, both locations serve as popular hangouts for the average ASU student looking to blow off steam.
Despite reports of the shootings, many students remained generally uninformed and unaware of the campus-adjacent gun violence.
Izaac Carlebach, a sophomore studying management and supply chain management, lives adjacent to El P’s Market on Lemon Street. He heard about the shooting from a friend.
"I wasn’t surprised (ASU) didn't say anything," Carlebach said. "When it is off campus, the University doesn't want to associate themselves with something like that."
ASU has a critical role in considering students' physical and emotional well-being beyond common academic pursuits. The University does inform students of on-campus danger, although through only one notable resource.
Students can create a LiveSafe mobile app profile specific to their campus to receive alerts about perceived threats. They can also request rides from Safety Escort Services and easily contact ASU police through the app.
Jason Weber, ASU Police crime prevention coordinator, said in a statement ASUPD is monitoring off-campus crime, and collaborates with other local crime prevention and investigation groups, including the East Valley Crime Prevention group and Arizona Crime Prevention Association.
"We have been monitoring what is occurring off and near campus, as that can have an effect on the campus population," Weber said in the statement. "We regularly work with our counterparts in law enforcement from crime prevention initiatives to investigations."
The University bears on its shoulders the moral obligation to provide students with the necessary information needed to navigate campus and adjacent shared spaces. This must include informing students of the existence and nature of gun violence in student-populated areas off campus.
"I have friends that go to El P’s," Carlebach said. "A lot of students go there, and even if it is not on campus, it is a part of the culture."
The safety and well-being of students on and off campus should be considered paramount for University. Ignoring, dismissing and downplaying incidents of gun violence erodes trust between administration and the student body.
"It almost feels like they could be trying to hide it," said Grace Hodge, a junior studying conservation biology and ecology. "It feels sneaky."
The lack of transparency undermines a sense of community, leaving students isolated and vulnerable.
Addressing off-campus incidents of violence openly fosters trust between students and the University, encouraging them to make informed decisions.
"While I don't feel unsafe on campus because there are police everywhere, I think they should have said something," Taison Roddy, a senior studying biological science, said. "I will read Tempe Police reports now and then, but I thought I would hear it from the University. At least I’d want to."
Megan Parr, a freshman studying secondary education, takes her safety very seriously when off-campus and wishes the University was more communicative about threats in the surrounding area.
"It rattles you, especially someone like me who is hypersensitive about safety," Parr said. "I want to know these things so that I know better. Hearing about those things is scary but important."
If ASU is to use LiveSafe as its primary and effective form of communication with students, its reach needs to extend beyond the boundaries of what is considered "on campus."
Instead, the University should take into account Tempe's most beloved student spots in University-wide reporting.
When the University addresses off-campus gun violence, it empowers students to make responsible decisions that benefit their lives. Students planning next semester’s housing, commuting to classes, or participating in regular activities would be better armed and equipped with the knowledge of potential risks, allowing them to take the necessary precautions.
"I depend on those LiveSafe alerts when I am on campus," said Raina Mueller, a freshman studying psychology. "Those bomb threats, the scary things that happen, we need to know so we can figure it out ourselves."
The University's obligation to inform students transcends the physical boundaries of campus. Embracing transparency around gun violence issues adjacent to campus is imperative and represents an investment in the trust, safety, and well-being of ASU students.
Edited by Walker Smith, Sadie Buggle and Caera Learmonth.
Editor's note: The opinions presented in this column are the author's and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.
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