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USC Bolsters Safety Education As School Starts

Gracie Zheng |
August 25, 2012 | 3:55 a.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

 Gracie Zheng/Neon Tommy)
Gracie Zheng/Neon Tommy)

In an effort to be more transparent, USC is taking steps to inform newly-admitted students of safety issues in the area.

Almost 200 students met with Department of Public Safety officers at safety workshop Friday afternoon, following a mandatory session of “Campus and Personal Safety” for both undergraduate and graduate international students during this week's orientation.

“Students have to remember that we do find ourselves...in the midst of an urban very populated environment, so there are necessary precautions that all of us must make,” said Steve Alegre, captain of crime prevention and crime intelligence at DPS.

“But no more so here than in any other major university in a major city,” he added.

During the one-hour seminar, DPS officers assured students of the efforts and technology the school put in the community to make them feel safe: 270 uniformed officers on campus, license plate recognition, Segways, camera surveillance and yellow jackets on major intersections.

Wyman Thomas, crime prevention specialist at DPS, said this is not enough and students should do their part in keeping themselves safe.

“Keep in mind to keep your things well-hidden especially when you’re out in the eye of the public,” said Thomas. “One thing we want you to avoid is not just pulling a cell phone out and using it; it’s really just the walking and talking because it’s more of a distraction.”

The talk was light-hearted. The audience broke into laughter from time to time at the officers’ quick-witted sense of humor.

“How likely is it to get mugged?” a student asked.

“It is likely if you do the things that I mentioned not to do,” said Thomas. “We’re talking about these little juveniles."

Students threw in questions about campus cruisers, crime alerts and laptop tracking softwares among other things, but no one mentioned the USC shooting of two graduate students near campus last April that shocked the community.

Those who are more concerned about safety around campus stayed for one-on-one question and answer session with the officers.  

“I’ve heard a lot about L.A. and how it’s not very safe,” said Rashelle Nagata, 19, a second-year undergraduate transfer from Hawaii.

She wanted to find out the average crime rate around campus. Do people normally get hurt during robbery? Does it happen in groups or at night?

“Usually it’s kind of a demand and compromise,” said Thomas. “There are sometimes when people are taken by surprise. Either they resist it or...sometimes get into some type of altercation.”

The majority of attendants at the seminar were international students. Dongye Zheng, 22, a first-year graduate student at the Viterbi School of Engineering, said he is more worried about use of guns in robbery.

“I want to make sure how not to get killed if that ever happens to me,” he said.

Zheng attended a summer program at UCLA last year. He said the USC shooting didn’t influence his decision to come to USC.

“California has stricter gun control compared with other states anyway,” he said.

USC has the largest number of international students of all universities in the country. USC hasn’t yet released its international student enrollment report for this year. According to its latest report, 6,944 international students were enrolled at USC for fall 2010, and its top places of origin are China and India. 1,951 students, or 28 percent of the total international students, are from mainland China.

Wei Wei, 23, a first-year engineering graduate student from Beijing, decided to come to USC even though he was admitted by a few other universities in the U.S.

“Besides looking at whether it’s a good university, I also considered safety issues,” he said.

 Wei said the shooting incident near campus is a random case, and that shootings also happen in other places of the United States.

“I should be fine by staying safe,” he said. “But my parents asked me to stay inside the safety zone.”

See the Trojan Safety video here:


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