News of the arrest of Gary Raub spread like wildfire Tuesday night. Raub, one of the more recognizable individuals who frequented the Ave due to his unique appearance and constant presence, was arrested in connection with a 36-year-old murder case in Maine.
People on Facebook and Twitter expressed a mixed bag of shock, confusion, and worry after hearing of the man’s arrest.
“I seriously say hi to this man every day,” one of my friends wrote. “He was really kind to me once I was having a rough day. This is really upsetting.”
“I’ve talked to him so many times,” another wrote.
As people began to cope with the idea that the man they saw hanging out on the Ave every day was arrested in connection with a brutal slaying decades ago, the news is an important reminder of the dangers of living not just in a big city but in the world today: We aren’t as safe as we think we are.
The context of the arrest makes it of utmost importance — it comes just after an already dangerous stretch in the U-District, in which there were four reported pistol-whipping robberies over the course of two weeks. While unsettling, the Raub case makes one thing extraordinarily clear — crime and its prevention are becoming an increasingly important part of student life. And, consequently, finding new ways to increase crime awareness and prevention should be of the utmost importance for student and university leadership this year.
Student leaders have made efforts in recent years to attempt to lower crime on campus, and while areas on campus have been surveyed, troublesome spots still exist. One of the armed robberies actually occurred after two men appeared from bushes near Northeast 56th Street and 16th Avenue Northeast wielding a handgun. As violent, armed crime increases, students should make a concerted effort to spend their time and resources actively advocating for increased patrols and infrastructure upgrades to make this area — one of the most densely populated in Seattle — safer.
Students should be looking for tangible safety improvements. One could be an expansion (or upgrade) of the UW Alert system.
While students are made aware of violent acts on campus a day later as required by the UW timely alert notification system, we could speed up the process. Previously, UW administrators have expressed hesitancy to allowing students to opt in to a voluntary, more comprehensive UW Alert system that would send out alleged crimes as soon as they have been reported due to the burden of information communication between the UW, which sends out the alerts, and the Seattle Police Department (SPD), which files and investigates.
Now, though, as the SPD launches its Twitter-by-beat system, in which individual Twitter handles automatically tweet out alleged crimes — along with their locations and times — as soon as an hour after they’re reported, students can request more. Why should we have had to wait until midday to know about an Oct. 6, 2012 pistol-whipping incident by email, rather than be made aware when the SPD tweeted about it an hour after it was reported?
There are opportunities to make students safer on and around campus, and administrative bloat should never be an excuse. But in order to achieve success, student leaders need to get creative and persistent: They must advocate for real improvements in safety and crime awareness in our greater U-District community.
Reach columnist Bill Dow at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @dowbill
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