The recent off-campus shooting has caused increased student concern over security west of Vermont Avenue, even after the university added an estimated $3 million in increased security to the area last spring.
Last Sunday two USC students were shot off-campus on the 1200 block of West 37th Place. The two students were hospitalized but are expected to fully recover. The suspect has not been caught.
Seventy-two video patrol cameras, 50 license plate recognition cameras and 13 new security ambassadors were added to the area to better protect students and residents living west of Vermont Avenue, said to Dept. of Public Safety Chief Carey Drayton.
The area west of campus was only patrolled regularly by DPS before last year’s update.
Despite the recent addition of security ambassadors and cameras, many students on the west side of campus said they still do not feel safe in the area.
“The university pays the least attention to this area,” said Sullivan Brown, a junior majoring in animation and digital art who lives on the 1200 block of West 37th Place. “It’s because this is one of the few areas around campus where more locals live in the area than students.”
Brown said he has noticed the new security cameras placed throughout the west side of campus and the presence of yellow jacket security officers but said it was not enough to keep the west side of campus safe.
“The yellow jacket watchers have not been proactive,” Brown said. “Adding security cameras and yellow jackets to the area is clearly not enough to keep us safe.”
Local residents living near where the shooting occurred expressed dissatisfaction with security in the area.
“The [DPS] patrols definitely lack on the west side of campus,” said Oscar Hernandez, a 13-year resident of West 37th Place. “The cameras seem to work but the [DPS] patrols aren’t on this side of campus [very often].”
Wesley Houng, a graduate student studying mechanical engineering who lives on the north side of campus, said he frequently visits the west side and that the area around West 37th Place is not as safe as the area north of campus.
“I don’t really feel protected [on the west side],” Houng said. “There is more of a police presence to the north of campus.”
Vice President of Student Affairs Michael L. Jackson said the best way for students to stay safe is to assist DPS in its efforts to keep the area surrounding USC secure.
“We encourage students to take precautions and take note of suspicious behavior they see,” Jackson said.
DPS Capt. David Carlisle said students play a direct role in their own safety.
“There’s always a problem when there’s a private party in a private residence,” Carlisle said. “And [DPS] can’t help those inside [the residence].”