May 29, 2009

Column exaggerates Hyde Park safety

Emmett Rensin’s column “Hyde Park Hysteria” (5/15/09) seriously mischaracterizes issues of public safety in the Hyde Park community. Rensin uses the statistics provided by the University under the Clery Act to argue that crime rates in Hyde Park are very low. However, that data only includes crimes committed on campus and other University property. Perhaps that’s all that matters to Rensin, but it represents only a tiny fraction of our community. The Chicago Police Department reveals that in the past year, there have been 162 violent crimes in Hyde Park and 912 property crimes—more than 10 times greater than Rensin’s estimates. That’s the fifth most violent of any neighborhood in Chicago (neighboring Woodlawn, Washington Park, and Kenwood are first, third, and fourth, respectively), and the third most prevalent in property crime (Woodlawn, Washington Park, and Kenwood are first, fourth, and fifth). It is true that many of these crimes occur away from campus. Perhaps for Rensin, that means that these crimes—and their victims—are safe to ignore. For those of us who believe that crime in our community is a serious issue, even if the victims happen to be poor and black, this editorial is deeply disturbing.

James Klugman

Class of 2009