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Opinion: High property crime in off-campus neighborhoods

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Property crime rates in Tucson are high. In the off-campus neighborhoods around the college, students may encounter break-ins, robberies and other crimes.

Being on campus at the University of Arizona is a dream. The school is beautiful, the weather is fantastic and most importantly, I feel safe. 

Once I step off campus the illusion of safety is shattered, as the city of Tucson does not offer the same sense of security. 

When I lived on campus last year, I always noticed that the areas around campus were not the greatest. The roads are subpar at best, the houses aren’t maintained and the store fronts are dismal. 

Despite the poor infrastructure, I never felt unsafe until my friends and myself all moved off campus this year. That seems to be the traditional pattern for UA students who don't typically live on campus after their freshman year.

After leaving campus, my friends and I started to realize how high the crime rates in Tucson actually are.

One of my friends that lives in a house northwest of campus, in a student housing community, had his house broken into while he was at home sleeping during the day. 

The intruder hopped over their 7-foot, cinderblock fence and broke one of the bedroom windows that face the backyard. 

The trespasser didn't steal anything, which we assume is because they likely realized that my friend was home and made a quick exit. 

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My friend called the Tucson Police Department immediately when he found out that someone broke in, which was sometime in the afternoon. TPD never responded to the scene of the crime. They only sent a community service officer, who didn't arrive until the next day. 

My roommates and I thought that maybe all the crime happening around us was a fluke, until I did some research.

An Arizona Daily Independent article published in 2015 labeled Tucson as Arizona’s most dangerous city. 

According to a Daily Star article from 2014, the Tucson metro area ranks number ten in the country for the highest property crime rate among metropolitan areas with at least 100,000 people. 

The year that this article was published there were 4,489 reported property crimes per 100,000 residents, while the average for metro areas was 2,730 per 100,000.

MSN published an article June 30, titled “50 worst cities to live in,” and they ranked Tucson 28. One of the reasons was property crime. According to this piece, per 100,000 people, 6,643 property crimes occurred in 2015. The national statistic was 2,847.

These numbers show that crime is not improving in Tucson, as the property crime rates rose in Tucson between 2014 and 2015. It also shows that in 2015, Tucson’s property crime rate was more than two times that of the national average. 

UA’s housing culture and lack of dorms does not help relieve the issue of property crimes as it concerns students. Many universities in the U.S. require students to live on campus for at least a year, sometimes two — and in some cases all four years.

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For the sake of student safety, I think that the UA should create more on-campus housing options. Currently, the only apartment style dorms available on campus are for graduate students. If there were on-campus options that offered the amenities of apartments to the entire student population, it would provide a safe and attractive alternative.

At other universities, most students live in traditional dorms for a year or two, which have a communal or suite-style bathroom setup, community kitchens and room sharing. After their freshman or sophomore year they move into apartment-style dorms on campus, where residents have their own room with private bathrooms, a living room and kitchen.

There are plenty of options for off-campus student housing, but it doesn't ensure the same amount of safety as living on campus does. 

Tucson clearly needs reform in crime and policing, but it's frankly irresponsible for the university to have limited on-campus housing options for students when the available off-campus housing options around the university are dangerous.


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