President C. L. Max Nikias told the Daily Trojan last week that he has decided to invest a significant amount of money into increasing off-campus security, including in the area west of Vermont Avenue, where the university’s presence has long been conspicuously absent. This is the right decision for students, for the community and for USC, and, perhaps most importantly, it demonstrates that Nikias is truly aware of and responsive to students’ concerns.
The university plans to install more cameras both north and west of campus, and it will also increase the number of yellow-jacket security guards in the area. The improved security will come not come cheap — Nikias estimated about $3 million per year — but it is a price well worth paying to ensure student safety.
USC has previously been anxious about moving west of Vermont. For a while, rather than venturing into the west side, the university instead tried to draw students back to the North University Park area. But for students simply looking for an affordable place to live, the west side holds more appeal than luxury complexes like Gateway.
Finally, the university has acknowledged that the student presence west of campus is permanent. Finally, students will no longer have to choose between safety and affordability.
Dept. of Public Safety officials say the danger of the west side is overstated, and that it is merely a matter of perception. Even if that is true, however, students deserve the perception of safety when they’re walking home from school. And if crime rates are already low, imagine how much lower they could be with security officers, cameras and increased patrols.
The choice to invest in student safety is clearly the right one — and even more encouraging is Nikias’ reason for making that decision.
It was students, he said. Students asked Nikias what he was going to do about safety west of campus, so he answered. He listened to students, and he took action.
As students, we appreciate that Nikias took the time to listen to our questions and our concerns, and we are impressed by how quickly he acted in addressing them. We hope this is a trend that will continue through the rest of Nikias’ presidency.