UCR MEDLEY: Med School funding, crime & student louts

UCR MEDLEY: Med School funding, crime & student louts

June 4, 2013 by

Strictly from a PR standpoint, last week started out just ducky for UCR.

At long last, the Legislature has (supposedly) located $15 million per year to make UCR Med an up-and-running concern. Next: Gov. Tightwad’s autograph? We’ll see. But what a relief for UCR and the med school grinders. Then came a Saturday letter to the editor and a Sunday opinion piece. We read that:

– Thoughtless UCR students alienate adult neighbors who have real jobs and need real sleep.

– Some UCR students don’t feel safe.

The letter, written “after midnight” on a weekday by Riverside resident Jill Johnson-Young, complained (putting it mildly) about loutish students who “think we’re a giant frat row.” They’re loud, they litter, they pee on other people’s yards. Pure Highlander class.

UCR has responded with good-neighbor policies, codes of conduct, etc. Do they work? To a point. Until the breaking point. One big problem: absentee landlords rent their homes to packs of unrelated students. “Dormitory row,” says one resident. A proposed city law would limit some rentals to two unrelated jerks in the same house. The city could take violating landlords to court.

The opinion piece, written by graduating senior Lindsay Cabreros, recounts a tense evening encounter with a “young, lanky man” who seemed to have designs on her iPhone. Lindsay stared him away, but uses the incident to discuss what she calls “increasingly rampant” crime at UCR and the surrounding area: “In January, February, and March, there were 225 reported crimes at the UCR campus.”

UCR’s latest figures: Jan.-April: 372 reported incidents: 106 “non-criminal” (i.e. traffic accidents); 266 criminal.

Spokeswoman Kris Lovekin: “… (O)ur police officers are being highly successful in making arrests… More security cameras are being installed… We have a campus safety escort program for people who are walking on and around campus in the evening.”

Lovekin links much crime to the ease with which phones and tablets can be converted to cash. She attached a photo of an “EcoATM” at the MoVal Mall that swallows the gadgets and coughs up money.

But these kiosks photograph the seller, scan his/her ID, require a thumb print and store the phone’s serial number. Step right up, stupid thieves!

Councilman Andy Melendrez, who represents the area, attributes some crime to students in crowded areas (Starbucks, U-Village) who leave their electronics within easy swiping distance.

Maybe they could be more careful, but let’s try not to blame the victims.

Melendrez also laments that crime reporting is not uniform among universities, making UCR seem more crime riddled than it is.

Upside? UCR and the city know what’s going on and are trying to tamp it down.

Downside? It’s not working well enough to satisfy furious neighbors and frightened students. It tarnishes UCR’s image just as its fortunes seem to be rising.

Councilman Melendrez: “When you emphasize safety, they say there must be a lot of crime.”

They sure do.


Reach Dan Bernstein at 951-368-9438 or dberntsein@PE.com

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