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Editorial: Keep Providence safe, not just College Hill

Last year, crime was at an all-time low in Providence, according to the 2013 reports released by the Providence Police Department. In tandem with the University’s increasing number of resources directed toward safety on College Hill, this means enhanced security for Brown students. There has been a big leap from just the blue light alarm system and SafeRide, as students now benefit from an expanded shuttle service and on-call shuttle routes, as well as the student-run Safewalk. In addition, more security personnel are now stationed at different locations around campus each evening.

Of course, it is of utmost importance that students remain vigilant in Providence, just like in any other city. Unfortunate events do indeed occur. In May 2013, a student fell into a coma after being punched on Thayer Street. In January 2013, a student was attacked with a knife and crowbar, as well as robbed, by three men outside of what used to be the Gate. And a knife assault at the intersection of Brown and Waterman streets injured a student in October 2012. But today, the increasing number of services available on College Hill should ensure safer travel from point A to point B than ever before.

While safety has improved in the area on and off campus, both the providers of the services and those who use them should be aware of residual issues that have sprung from reduced crime rates on and around College Hill. Creating a safety bubble around the University is a positive change for those it encompasses, but studies have shown that increased safety in urban areas — which leads to gentrification as upper-middle-class residents move back to the neighborhoods — often pushes crime to peripheral areas. In Providence, crime rates in Olneyville, South Providence and Chad Brown are the highest in the greater metropolitan area. All of these areas are situated just outside of College Hill.

Such contingent issues should be addressed by both the Brown Department of Public Safety and the PPD as a joint force for the broader population. The Providence police already has community partnerships in places like Olneyville, and it should continue to maintain such connections in order to reach the most vulnerable spots in areas neighboring College Hill. But this also calls for students’ help. Brown students are also members of a larger community, and as citizens of Providence, they should get off campus to participate in the city whenever possible. University programs through Brown’s Swearer Center for Public Service (for example, Brown Elementary Arts Mentoring), as well as volunteer opportunities available in Providence, can help develop a larger safety network throughout the region, instead of localizing it on College Hill.


Editorials are written by The Herald’s editorial page board: Natasha Bluth ’15, Alexander Kaplan ’15, Katherine Pollock ’16 and James Rattner ’15. Send comments to


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