SGA Plans to Reduce Bike Thefts at University Apartments With Safety Fair

Photo by Solé Bicycles on Unsplash

By: Teresa Schuster / Staff Writer

2019-2020 SGA vice-president Isabella Ojeda didn’t think University Apartments would be different from other campus housing buildings. After moving in, she realized students there felt less safe.

“I started seeing a lot of students commenting [in the University Apartments group chat] about there being [bike] thefts,” said Ojeda. “That was obviously something that I wanted to look into.”

Ojeda soon realized this was a bigger issue. Since University Apartments are older buildings, they do not have all of the safety characteristics others do, and they are located on the outskirts of campus.

“It has different features that make it different,” Ojeda said. “Perhaps that’s what causes [the thefts] to come about.”

Ojeda met with the FIU Police Department Chief and the Director of Campus Housing to find ways to reduce thefts.

A safety workshop specific to University Apartments would help with this, according to Ojeda. It would teach students how to protect themselves against crimes, and about the resources at FIU, which she says students often don’t think of since there are so many.

“I remember orientation; I left with a folder full of flyers,” she said. “A lot of the time students don’t end up looking at those flyers again.”

Those resources include the FIU Guardian app,  which enables students to easily communicate with their emergency contacts and FIUPD, and self defense classes. Ojeda also believes it’s important to educate students about locking up their bikes, and having FIUPD engrave them and other items so they cannot be pawned.

“It’s a balance between trying to feel safe and comfortable but also staying alert, because this is a public university. Anyone can come on campus,” Ojeda said.

Although Ojeda is graduating this year, the new SGA administration intends to carry on Ojeda’s initiative.

“Teaching Panthers important safety tips and exposing them to some of the resources FIUPD has to offer is a way to help them avoid serious incidents,” said Alexandra Ibarria, the SGA’s new vice-president.

Due to COVID-19, the initiative has been postponed until further notice. Ibarria said the fair will be held a few weeks after students move in to University Apartments, if possible, to give them time to settle in.

Ojeda says the fair would help students feel comfortable with FIUPD.

“It offers an opportunity where students can interact with [them], engage with them, connect with them,” said Ojeda. “That way when things happen on campus, it’s not as scary to let law enforcement know.”

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