What ABC-13 Gets Wrong About UH Student Housing Crime
Reporters at KTRK ABC-13 say that UH campus housing has a crime issue and school officials should be taking note. Or so you’d think if you read Kelly Clemons’ September 8th article, “Students Concerned About Increased Crime Near University of Houston Main Campus.”
According to that report, Jerry Ford, Jr. M.P.P. ’18, was held at gunpoint and robbed of his wallet and cellphone as he was entering The Vue at MacGregor apartment complex at the corner of S. MacGregor Way and Calhoun Rd. His robber then fled across the street to MacGregor Park. Ford, though rattled, was philosophical about the incident: “I would’ve gave him [the gunman] money,” he told Clemons. “I would’ve talked to him because the real crime is why is he in that position that he feels the need to come and hang out at a college campus and rob people of stuff they worked for.”
Clemons, nevertheless, was quick to note that, “Last month, dozens of vehicles were broken into at the Campus Vue apartments around the corner.” Then a few lines later opined: “All this as the university touts its record enrollment. These apartments mainly house UH students, but the university says UH Police do not patrol them.”
Though to most this would come as a surprise, Vue on MacGregor is not UH owned or affiliate housing; neither is its nearby sister complex, Campus Vue, not even close. Neither is it “around the corner” from UH. It’s a pricy, student-oriented, apartment complex managed by the Dallas-based, Grand Campus Living. Thus, contrary to Clemons implication, UH students have no reason to be chagrined at the university not staffing neighboring private property with its peace officers for the same reasons UH doesn’t staff any of the half-dozen fast food eateries along Scott Street, visited by UH students all day. Any security issues effecting residents at those housing projects rightly belongs to GCL. To imply UH campus housing is somehow unsafe is just sloppy reporting.
Never one to miss exploiting news of university-related criminal activity to show why weaponizing students can thwart gun-toting criminals, Students for Concealed Carry, (which has a virtual “UH chapter” online but is not a registered UH student organization,) has been strangely silent.
The fact that Ford, Jr., is a local activist and respected leader with the local Black Lives Matter movement, probably has nothing to do with their silence.
As Gun Free UH showed in its in-depth investigation into SCC, released August 1st, SCC’s national and regional leadership is staffed almost exclusively by white males, a reflection of its overall, Caucasian, arch-conservative membership.
It also worth mentioning as well that The Vue on MacGregor, and its sister complex Campus Vue, are the only Houston properties CGL manages, according to their website. And those sites get mixed reviews by both tenants and prospective occupants, considering students pay over $850.00 monthly apiece for a one-bedroom, one-bath portion of a shared four-bedroom, four-bath space with three other occupants. And that’s at the low end of the scale. Students wishing to live in UH-secured housing have many options, but The Vue of MacGregor is not one of them.
As for campus housing “robberies,” the most recently released UHPD stats (2015 Clery data) show that in 2014-2015, there were a total of five — count them — five “on campus” incidents, although the report does not detail where, how, or when those incidents occurred, by whom, or whether a firearm was involved. The largest category of crimes being committed on campus during the same period? Liquor law violations — fifty-one in all. Coming in second for on-campus crimes committed were drug violations — forty-nine in all. Yes, where there are fevered brains hard at work unlocking the mysteries of the universe, you will, alas, find liquor and drugs.
Moreover, neither Clemens nor SCC will likely be reporting anytime soon the fact that, according to 2014 Texas Department of Public Safety data, in the 77004 zip code, (where the UH Main campus resides,) 163 Concealed Handgun Licenses were issued. That’s a four-fold increase since 2004. During the same 2014 period, Houston Police Department crimes stats show no decrease in either personal or property crime rates for the same period in the same zip code. So, no, more guns have not equaled fewer crimes near the UH campus. Not burglaries, assaults, or robberies. But neither have those incident rates increased.
In future, KTRK might do a five-second Internet search for Clery data, and also learn the difference between actual UH student housing and a private property owner who’s set up camp within a few minutes’ drive between UH and its collegiate neighbor, Texas Southern University, in order to exploit the student housing market. It may save them some embarrassment.
Alex Colvin ’17, founder and director of Gun Free UH, is a UH History senior and is minoring in Anthropology.