OPINION: There’s no such thing as a “safe” Claremont bubble

The path to the Pomona clock tower ringed by trees at night. The moon glows yellow in the sky.
Graphic by Greta Long

On Sept. 18, students at the 7Cs were notified that two men had stolen a cellphone from an individual next to Pomona College’s Oldenborg Center around 10 p.m. 

I was shocked when I received the Timely Warning Notification email from Campus Safety. I had just been in the area 30 minutes prior to the incident, and knowing that the victim could have been me, I felt extremely unsettled.

In the past few weeks, I had grown used to having a sense of security in Claremont. Harvey Mudd College is known for its Honor Code, which ensures a level of trust between students and faculty at the college with students’ promises of honesty and integrity. Theoretically, this means that students can leave possessions in public areas and have them returned or be able to go back and find their missing items.

However, the world outside of HMC does not follow the Honor Code, something that I had easily forgotten in my time here. In light of the recent mugging incident, I wondered about how safe I truly was on campus.

So, I looked into Campus Safety statistics about crime at the 7Cs. In 2018, there were a total of 23 on-campus burglaries across all seven campuses, according to the Annual Fire Safety and Security Reports for all the 7Cs. 

There have also been 80 occurrences of incidents like vandalism, trespassing and theft at the 7Cs between Aug. 2 and Oct. 2, according to the Clery Daily Crime Logs.

Crime does very much exist at the 7Cs, and students should be aware of that.

To stay safe, students can avoid walking alone at night by traveling in large groups or using Campus Safety’s 24-hour escort service, which can be accessed by calling 909-607-2000. If it’s really necessary to walk alone, students should use the LiveSafe mobile application so friends can track their routes as they walk to their destinations.

Paying more attention to one’s surroundings is important as well. For instance, despite my urge to check social media when walking alone at night, I usually try to peel my eyes off my phone and unplug my earbuds so I can be more aware of any potential dangers.

At night, walking around the Claremont campuses can be particularly dangerous since some areas of the colleges are not well-lit, and students do not have access to many buildings that are not on their home college campus.

Students should stick to the most well-lit routes and areas with heavier foot traffic when possible.

These are all precautions similar to those that Campus Safety recommends students to take. However, they are not enough to fix the underlying problems that can lead to potential dangers on the 7C campuses.

To make traveling around the Claremont campuses at night a little safer, the colleges should look into installing better lighting. For instance, having more motion-sensing streetlights like those along Walker Beach at Pomona College would be helpful in making travel at night safer, while conserving energy because motion-sensing lights will not be on all the time.

Additionally, the 7Cs should provide students with card swipe access to public buildings that are currently only accessible to students who belong to that one college campus. That way, in the case of any emergencies, a student walking on a campus that isn’t their own can easily swipe into a 7C building to get out of harm’s way.

Though it may be easy to be lulled into a false sense of security, it’s important for students to remember that crime still takes place on campus. There’s no such thing as a “safe” Claremont bubble, and it’s up to the colleges to develop working solutions that will make the 7C campuses safer. 

Michelle Lum HM ’23 is from San Jose, California. She does not enjoy walking around the Claremont campuses at night.

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