Neighborhood Safety Important When Choosing an Urban College

March 20, 2013

tumblr_ltbujnpmwr1r459kpo1_500Parents often choose colleges for their kids based on too little study of the dangers that await innocent youth in urban college settings.  As most adults can already guess, looking at promotional pictures in recruitment brochures will hardly give an accurate description.  Colleges are no longer what they used to be.  Living on past laurels is the name of the new game.

       Nor are the cities and neighborhoods surrounding the colleges what they once were.  The old neighborhoods have been trashed by urban renewal. Danger lurks on urban campuses as well as in the sprawling, graffiti-infested tenements that stretch in every direction.  “Parent’s Day” visits are designed to be misleading as only a sanitized view of the campus is constructed.  Crime stats and other “reality” checks are kept conveniently out of view.

      In his study “Being White in Philly,“  Robert Huber regrets not having taken into consideration of his young son when choosing what he took to be a university with a good name: 

     My younger son goes to Temple, where he’s a sophomore. This year he’s living in an apartment with two friends at 19th and Diamond, just a few blocks from campus. It’s a dangerous neighborhood. Whenever I go see Nick, I get antsy and wonder what I was thinking, allowing him to rent there.

    One day, before I pick him up for lunch, I stop to talk to a cop who’s parked a block away from Nick’s apartment.

     “Is he already enrolled for classes?” the cop says when I point out where my son lives.

    Well, given that it’s December, I think so. But his message is clear: Bad idea, this neighborhood. A lot of burglaries and robberies. Temple students are prime prey, the cop says.

       Huber discovered that parents are prevented from even making inquiries.  Political correctness has thrown a no discussion zone around any-and-all inquiries about race:  “Everyone might have a race story, but few whites risk the third-rail danger of speaking publicly about race, given the long, troubled history of race relations in this country and even more so in this city. Race is only talked about in a sanitized form, when it’s talked about at all, with actual thoughts and feelings buried, which only ups the ante. Race remains the elephant in the room, even on the absurd level of who holds the door to enter a convenience store.”

   But parents considering sending their kids to urban universities can do some research in advance.  Driving around the neighborhood will reveal a lot.  So will just walking around campus on routine days when students are fully in session.  Visiting campus just during the summer and on special showcase weekends should be avoided.  

        A visit to the nearest city police precinct is next in order.  Avoid campus police offices since they, more than likely, have been pressured to suppress or downplay negatives.  Ask the police both about on-campus crimes and off-campus dangers.  When students return home for holidays, how will they get from campus to the transportation zone?  

     Parents should determine if concealed carry on campus and in the community is allowable.  If it isn’t, then the criminal underclass has been the first to take advantage of their new victims.  Carrying students should be taught handgun safety and education, as well as a shoot-to-kill mental attitude if the worst-case scenario arises.

     Parents often cavalierly justify their lack of responsibility by claiming that exposure to “all kinds” will give their kids a toughness and make them more street-smart and cosmopolitan.  Perhaps a bit, but more than likely they’ll become victims with lifelong mental handicaps.  It makes no more sense than putting their elderly parents in a nursing home in a rough neighborhood for the same reason.

     Parents who want the safest and most academically sound college experience for their children might want to consider colleges in the Midwest, many of which are located in quaint, small towns.

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