UIC adds 24-hour security to campus parking garages following murder of student Ruth George
George was sexually assaulted and murdered in a parking facility on Taylor Street last month.
University of Illinois at Chicago are instituting 24-hour security patrols of campus parking garages following the strangulation and sexual assault of a student at an unstaffed garage last month.
In a letter to students last week, John Coronado, vice chancellor for administrative services at UIC, said the patrols would continue at least through the end of the semester on Dec. 15.
However, in an interview Wednesday, Coronado said that he expected the university to make the 24-hour patrols permanent next semester.
Coronado said the previous security patrol hours, which ended at 9 p.m., were implemented because very little crime was being reported in the parking structures.
“Even if it’s a perception issue, we want students to feel safe using them,” he said.
Jess Arndhwa, 18, said she would welcome that change. She hasn’t parked her car in a campus garage since sophomore Ruth George was sexually assaulted and strangled after she was followed in the early morning hours of Nov. 23 into a parking structure at 760 W. Taylor St. Donald Thurman, a 26-year-old man who was recently paroled from prison on an armed robbery conviction, was arrested the next day and charged with George’s murder.
As a woman “I don’t think you can ever feel safe enough,” Arndhwa said Wednesday. And, she noted, the change would be good for all students, even men.
“I think anyone could be targeted,” she said.
Coronado said making the 24-7 patrols permanent was one of several changes being considered by university officials as they review security protocols and services following George’s murder.
More than 8,000 people have signed an online petition calling on UIC to “maximize” security measures following the attack.
“The majority of students at UIC commute and use this particular garage,” the petition says. “... Students are carrying out their responsibility to study and collaborate with peers to succeed at UIC. It is the university’s responsibility to ensure every property owned is safe and secure.”
Still, UIC students who spoke with the Chicago Sun-Times Wednesday said they mostly feel safe on campus. One, 18-year-old freshman Hailey Etienne, while she generally feels safer at UIC than in other areas of the city, she tries to walk with another person at night and takes other precautions if she can’t, including talking on the phone with someone while she walks and texting a friend when she gets home.
The majority of students said they believed the school should focus on enhancing the safety measures that are already available for students, like the school’s Night Ride service.
The free, on-demand rides between campus facilities are available for students and faculty between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. But several students said long wait times had caused them to abandon it as an option.
“We’re aware that’s been a sore spot from some students who have had a poor experience and might not go back to using it again,” Coronado said.
Though some students described waiting 45 minutes for a ride that would only take them several blocks, Coronado said the average wait time for the service this semester was seven minutes, though he acknowledged that demand was particularly high between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m. and could lead to longer wait times.
Coronado said that hiring more drivers for the Night Ride service, and eventually giving students the ability to track their driver’s to their location, like a ridesharing app, were also being considered by the university.