Trinity assault sheds light on Hartford safety

The media coverage of the assault on a Trinity student this week has put a spotlight on the safety of the campus, causing the school’s President to consider alternatives to the rather unguarded campus.

The incident at Trinity has brought up the question as to whether other schools in the area, including University of Hartford, are secure enough to prevent a similar situation from happening. However, based on past incidents, it seems unless more of a commotion is made, any solution is far from being carried out.

Early Sunday morning two Trinity Students were walking on the road on the edge of the campus when a car pulled up, brutally beating sophomore Christopher Kenney, ultimately sending him to the hospital to be treated for a broken jaw and cheekbone, among other injuries.

He underwent surgery and was released several days later. The other student was able to escape.

After the assault, which was covered by local television and newspapers across the board due to the severity, parents, students and alumni alike sent their concerns with the lack of safety on the campus.

Trinity was on it’s toes and responded within days with immediate remedies; they hired five more Campus Safety officers to patrol the borders of campus, are currently undergoing a process to find an executive officer to oversee the safety of the campus, and, according to an email President James Jones sent to the Trinity Community, are considering a redesign of landscape involving barriers, lighting and monitored access.

Though, luckily, no University of Hartford student has suffered an attack to this extent in the past few years, that doesn’t mean the campus isn’t susceptible to such brutality. In the most recent crime report released by Public Safety from 2010, there were three forcible sex offenses, three aggravated assaults and seven judicial weapons violations, all taking place on the main campus. None of these incidents were covered by media to the extent that Trinity’s recent assault was.

Since 2010, Public Safety has instituted monitoring entrances on weekends nights. The added security is a plus, but Friday and Saturday after 10 p.m. doesn’t necessarily prevent everyone from getting on campus. And in reality, it only monitors vehicles, not people.

The Trinity campus is a bit of an oasis in what is known as the “Behind the Rocks” area of Hartford; it’s a mini ivy league who’s historic brick buildings hold a wealth of culture and knowledge.

The wealth that the surrounding area has, however, comes from drugs, gangs and the like. According to police reports, serious crime has risen slightly in the past year, positioning the college in a dangerous location.

It could be argued that University of Hartford’s location poses a dangerous threat as well. Half the campus borders West Hartford, while another side borders the notorious North End, which isn’t foreign to the occasional shooting spree or robbery. With easy access to the Mark Twain Drive entrance, students are susceptible.

It’s a shame that Trinity didn’t reevaluate its safety while being in the middle of a known dangerous location, but after the slew of complaints the immediate response with amped-up safety initiatives was a wise one.

Trinity’s new public safety model would be something Hartford should consider, but action shouldn’t be held out until a student is subjected to facial reconstruction surgery, or worse.