Students React to Suspect’s Arrest
Some relief, but just “some”
Crime changes the way we view our world: that’s one takeaway from student comments about the four robberies of members of the BU community in recent weeks. Here’s another: one arrest doesn’t change it back.
Students interviewed following the arrest of a suspect in a string of armed robberies on or near campus expressed some relief, but say that the crimes have forced them to change their behavior and reevaluate how safe they feel on campus.
Dexter McCoy (COM’14), BU’s Student Government president, isn’t sure that the arrest of one suspect, while other suspects are at large, has made him feel much safer. “I do feel more comfortable knowing that something is being done and progress is being made,” he says. “And I think that overall the attitudes that I’ve been getting from students is that they feel relieved that someone has been caught.”
McCoy says the two-week string of assaults has made him more aware of his surroundings. In its wake, he says, he is more likely to walk with a group and take the bus at night.
He is more concerned, he says, about how the robberies, believed to have been committed by young black males, have changed the way students think about race.
“I had one girl who said that when she sees a black guy in a hoodie, she feels uncomfortable,” he says. “That echoed a woman’s comment at the town hall meeting that a girl on her floor says she doesn’t feel comfortable around black men. This type of ignorance is disappointing, and it has opened up a conversation on race on campus. It’s a conversation we’ll be having in the next few weeks. I’ve talked to students about what they can do, and how Student Government can be of assistance. We are looking to engage with the Community Service Center, the Howard Thurman Center, and the Sexual Assault Response & Prevention (SARP) Center. The conversation will lead to a plan of action as it relates to these incidents and racial profiling on campus.”
Like McCoy, Hannah Breck (SAR’16) feels safer, but she, too, will change her habits.
“I think I’m definitely going to try to be more cautious all the time now,” says Breck. “I should have been more cautious before, I guess, but I’m definitely never going to walk anywhere alone, especially at night.”
Kayla Fernandez (CAS’13), mindful that other suspects are still out there, says that since the robberies, “my friends text me when they get home every night. We always text each other no matter what. It’s just now we’re more aware, and I think that we’re always going to be more aware.”
But Madeline Walsh (COM’14) says the crimes won’t change her behavior much, because the safety tips offered seem like common sense. “I feel that the majority of BU students are smart and don’t flash things around,” says Walsh. “I’d like to see BUPD do more community safety and be more involved with the students. They should cover more of those dark walkways, like the one near 808 Commonwealth Ave., and keep an eye on places where people could hide.”
Those safety tips advised during the crime spree were not new to Evan Shadlun (COM’15). “I always kind of took those precautions,” he says. “I don’t really carry my laptop or anything of value with me.” Still, he says, “last night I went to the library, and because I didn’t know they caught the guy, I took all the money and credit cards out of my wallet.”
Some students also expressed strong opinions about the $10,000 reward BU offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of one or more of the perpetrators involved in the robberies. Sue Kwong (CFA’13) believes the amount was extravagant. “Don’t we pay enough for tuition and security at BU?” Kwong asks. “I feel that by giving this money, it was asking someone else to do the police work.”
But Nathan Storm, a consultant and programmer analyst for BU’s IS&T Systems Operations, thinks the $10,000 reward was a good idea, and should have been offered sooner.
Storm says the single arrest does not make him feel safer, because he’s unconvinced that the suspect who turned himself in is part of the group that committed the other robberies. Equally troubling, he says, is the response of people who “jump up and say we should carry weapons.”1 Comments