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Suffolk ups security measures after vandalism incident on Hill

By: Alyssa Mitchell

Posted: 10/29/08

In an email sent to students early last week, Ann Coyne, Dean of Students, voiced concerns about the recent vandalism and destruction of residential buildings and property on Temple Street.

Though the crimes were mostly misdemeanors, residents of the Beacon Hill neighborhood were left with ruined property such as flower pots, pumpkins, and other outdoor decorations.

According to Richard Grealish, the director of Neighborhood Response, it is not assumed that a Suffolk student is to blame for the crimes, but it is a possibility.

"It would be irresponsible to believe that because we are closest that we are to blame," said Grealish. "I would like to think that it is not our students, that our students are smarter than that."

In previous years, similar problems have occurred on Temple and Myrtle Streets, and Grealish believes that residents have a right to be upset.
"[Residents] are concerned," he said. "Their quality of life is being impacted negatively. I would hate to think this is something they will have to endure every fall."

Suffolk has made several changes over the past few years to comply with residential concerns in densely student populated neighborhoods with such programs as the Ride Along. Similar action will be taken in this case:

Suffolk police has already increased security patrol on Temple Street between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 a.m. along with positioning a Boston Police cruiser at the bottom of the street during the time with heightened foot traffic caused by clubs and bars closing.

If a Suffolk student is caught performing or participating in these crimes, disciplinary action will be taken, said Grealish.

"This is a violation of off campus policy so an incident report would have to be filed," said Coyne. "Then the student would have to come and speak with me and I will decide if they are responsible for violating the policy… Restitution for the damages would have to be given to the residents and possibly even parental notification. Parents help play a large roll and if involved will help educate students."

With no suspects and no eye witnesses to the prior crimes, the focus is preventing future occurrences. Recognizing the limitations of Suffolk's ability to supervise the students, Grealish also encourages students to realize they have a responsibility to police themselves.

With the preexisting controversy surrounding plans to begin construction of 20 Somerset, it is a concern that if acts like this continue, further expansion of the University may be compromised.

"Certainly this can be seen as a point of contention for 20 Somerset being up for final approval," he said.

Suffolk has already experienced resistance from the Beacon Hill Housing Authority on plans to expand the University, and it is stressed by University officials that keeping friendly relations with the residents of Beacon Hill is essential.

"I would say that if neighbors perceive that students are to blame, it reflects negatively on the school," said Coyne. "Many students respect, live, work and contribute to Beacon Hill so it is a shame that this is how students are viewed."

Coyne asks that students recognize how this reflects upon them and that the University is aware that the majority of students do recognize the need to be good neighbors.

"Students should channel their energies into more activities around
campus," she said. "The office of Student Activities has a lot of opportunities. Get involved instead of stealing pumpkins and trashing plants."
 
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