Opinion: CU chooses campus reputation over students’ wellbeing

Flatirons in the winter. (Photo by Jesse Varner)

On Wednesday, Feb. 7 at 4:45 p.m., CU Boulder sent out an emergency text to students, notifying them of a sword-bearing man near Varsity Lake. The man and an accomplice were soon declared a non-threat and were later arrested after stabbing another man off campus. This quick communication sent a buzz through CU, allowing students to avoid Varsity Lake and keep themselves out of danger.

While these text alerts prevent students from getting harmed during the occasional sword or machete attack, they fail to notify students of the much more common threats: crimes and attacks committed on University Hill.

This academic year (August to the present) CU has only sent out three emergency text alerts — two of which were sent last week concerning the sword threat. However, according to the crime analyst of the Boulder Police Department, there have been 1,428 reported crimes on the Hill between Aug. 1, 2017 and Feb. 10, 2018.


Some of these offenses include:

  • Five counts of rape,
  • Five sex offenses,
  • 12 counts of aggravated assault,
  • Two counts of arson,
  • 31 counts of burglary,
  • And 11 counts of motor vehicle theft.

All 66 of those listed offenses fit into the categories that demand that timely warnings be issued if they were to occur on campus.

In addition to CU not informing students of these crimes, few of these occurrences were covered by the local media as well. Some of the only instances covered were gunshots being fired on Oct. 21 and Oct. 29, three girls being robbed at gunpoint, a drunk driver barreling through the streets of the Hill crashing into 20 cars along with a firetruck and a woman being followed by a suspected thief.

With both CU and the media keeping students in the dark about the crimes occurring on the Hill, students unknowingly enter a potentially dangerous atmosphere.

Since the Hill is off-campus, the Boulder Police Department holds investigative jurisdiction over it. Because of this, CU has chosen not to send alerts of crimes occurring there because “it’s not appropriate for another police agency (such as CUPD) to comment on another department’s case,” said CU Boulder Police Chief Ken Koch.

This professional courtesy, however, endangers the lives of CU students.

Gunshots being fired outside of a fraternity house on Halloween weekend puts far more students at risk than one man with a sword wandering the outskirts of campus.

Ignoring the crimes that occur on the Hill is irresponsible and dangerous.

While the Hill being off-campus (though it is closer to main campus than Williams Village) makes it legal for CU to disregard the many crimes occurring there, it is immoral for the university to risk the safety of all of their students who live on and visit the Hill every day. Deliberately neglecting these occurrences to make CU appear safer actually makes CU less safe.

The false image of security that CU creates through cherry-picking which crimes to inform its students of may help its reputation, but it risks the safety of its students in the process. There is no defense for this negligence.

Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Hannah Metzger at hannah.metzger@colorado.edu.

Hannah Metzger

Hannah Metzger is the head opinion editor for the CUI. She is a second-year student from Aurora, Colorado pursuing a major in journalism and minor in political science.

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