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Students Question Campus and Neighborhood Safety

Campus and city safety have become a concern for some given recent acts of gun violence that have transpired in Nashville.

“Campus feels super safe to me, but with the recent events, I don’t know anymore,” freshman Sierra Byrd said.

The shooting that killed Jillian Ludwig has caused some in the Belmont community to question the safety of Nashville. As of Nov. 8, there have been 56 assaults within a one-mile radius of Belmont University since Aug. 23.

Other students agreed with Byrd. After having felt safe, the past year has hindered their confidence in Nashville’s safety.

Junior Dylan Duffy does not feel as safe with the frightening things that have happened on and around campus over the last two years.

“When I was a freshman living in Pembroke I felt pretty safe, but I also didn’t really know how unsafe it was around here,” Duffy said.

But students do not blame Belmont Campus Security for this lack of comfort in Nashville.

“I feel like they do a decent job patrolling the area, I usually see them around here and they added more light posts so you can see easier,” Duffy said. “I don’t know how much more they can do because it’s just crazy around here.”

Campus security also has direct communications with the local authorities in order to receive extra help at and around campus when necessary to keep students safe, Campus Security Chief Pat Cunningham said.

“We have direct radio interoperability with local police, fire and EMS so our dispatcher has the ability to monitor radio traffic for incidents near campus, and we have the ability to talk directly with local responders in the event of an emergency,” Cunningham said.

The best way to stay safe: be informed. This is easier for the students who have previously lived in a big city as freshman Annabelle Murphy said.

“The best thing that could happen is kids becoming aware of the dangers that come with living in a big city,” said Claire Jenkins, a Belmont student from a small town.

Cunningham does offer advice for students who have not lived in a big city though.

“Our advice would be to stay informed about areas in our city that you frequent or want to explore – sign up for local alerts, keep an eye on local media reports and use local crime mapping sites to discern your personal comfort level with incidents in areas you want to visit,” Cunningham said.

Some students wished that there was more of a clear understanding about safety established when first coming to Nashville.

“I have heard from Nashville residents this is not a great area, but I don’t know,” Byrd said. “They probably should have taught us that we are not in the best part of Nashville.”

Other students expanded the idea of teaching the freshmen and reminding others of how to live in a city, especially for those from small towns.

“This is a city and a lot of people aren’t from cities. They might not understand the implications of the city,” Murphy said.

Campus security does offer some help with teaching students in self-defense classes.

“Take advantage of our free safety programming, including self-defense training,” Cunningham said.

The overall sentiment of students and Cunningham alike centered on awareness and security habits.

“It’s less about thinking of areas in terms of ‘this is a safe area’ and ‘this is an unsafe area’ than it is of developing good security habits that help keep you safe wherever you are,” Cunningham said.


This article was written by Maya Burney

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