Campus Life

Crime on Campus

Parents who are sending their precious progeny away to college this fall get nervous when they read about criminal behavior in the halls of Ivy. Recently there has been good reason to be concerned.

You may have read about the recent murder at Harvard University. Even the alleged seat of elite higher education is not immune:

June 17 (Bloomberg) -- A Harvard University dormitory slaying last month added a new chapter to the 373-year-old school's history of murders that have made front-page headlines and often inspired books.

Justin Cosby, 21, of Cambridge, Massachusetts, where Harvard is located, was set up for a “drug rip" robbery by three New Yorkers, including Jabrai Jordan Copney, 20, a songwriter who surrendered on May 21, and Blayn Jiggetts, 19, who was arrested June 9, Middlesex County District Attorney Gerry Leone said. (The third has not been identified.)

Two female Harvard students from New York knew both Copney and Cosby, according to Leone, who has charged neither of the women in the case. Both women were expelled before the school year ended, and public fascination with the killing may swell if prosecutors drag the students deeper into the investigation, said Melanie Thernstrom, who wrote a book about a 1995 murder- suicide at the school.

“It seems like a rich, dramatic story," Thernstrom said June 10 in a telephone interview. “It's every bit as sad either way, but a killing where Harvard students are involved is extraordinarily unusual."

That's far from Harvard's only brush with criminal noteriety:

The 1995 stabbing of Trang Ho, a Harvard undergraduate, inspired Thernstrom's “Halfway Heaven: Diary of a Harvard Murder" (Doubleday & Co., 1997). The 1849 butchering of George Parkman, a Cambridge doctor and lender, was international news and the subject of a 1991 book by a history professor at Columbia University in New York. Other Harvard-linked murders have been covered in the New York Times and newspapers in Europe.

Another report of disturbing happenings comes from Georgia Tech:

2 More Tech Students Robbed

Two more Georgia Tech students have been robbed, the latest in a series of holdups that have raised concerns in the area.

The latest robbery happened early Sunday morning, at Hampton Street, about a block from where another Tech student was robbed and shot earlier this year.

In the latest holdup, three men jumped out of a black SUV and confronted Ryan Lorber and his friend, Jim Kenney.

"I'm a little shaken up," Lorber says, "but, for the most part, I'm glad I'm living."

Lorber was able to escape the gunmen; Kenney, whose leg is in a cast, could not.

"I said I don't want any trouble," Kenney says. "So I laid down, emptied out my pockets and he grabbed everything I'd emptied out."

The gunmen then jumped back into the SUV and sped off.

Lorber hopes police might have the suspects on videotape.

"Where it happened, they have a video camera so, hopefully, they have something on tape," he says.

There have been three robberies in the area in the past two months and residents, like Roy Lee, are concerned. Lee wants to protect himself, but cannot.

"Because we're within a certain distance of the Tech campus, we're not allowed to have firearms to defend ourselves," he says.

Police have no description of the gunmen. As for the SUV, all they know is the vehicle has a broken tail light.

Commentator Neil Bortz had this right-on take concerning the GT robbery:

Seems there's a bit of a problem in the Georgia Tech area in Atlanta. There

have been a string of armed robberies near the Tech campus in recent weeks.

One Tech student was shot during a robbery in May. When will it stop? When

some armed Tech students shoots one of these predatory bastards dead in his

tracks. Ohhhh ... but it's probably illegal for a Tech student to carry a

gun to the campus, so for now it's the robbers who will be armed. That

ought to work out rather nicely.

What's a parent to do? Well, Mom and Dad (even you, the about-to-be college frosh) can request a campus crime report or check out campus security data for any school. Of course, as always, the College Confidential discussion forum is a superb resource for both student and parental comments on campus security and crime. Here's a sample thread concerning Tufts University.

Use the CC forum's search function to find threads on "campus security" and "campus crime" and you'll discover perhaps more than you care to know about both topics. No, the sky is not falling, but it sure pays to be in the know about these issues.

Don't forget to check out all my admissions-related articles and book reviews at College Confidential.