Night in Elmwood: Dangers of off-campus parking

Photo by Evan Ludes/The Gateway Elmwood Park can be a dangerous place for students walking to their cars at night
Photo by Evan Ludes/The Gateway
Elmwood Park can be a dangerous place for students walking to their cars at night

By Kelly Langin, Contributor

For many University of Nebraska at Omaha students, Elmwood Park is a campus gem which is easily accessible from both Dodge and Pacific Campuses. The breathtaking park, which students pass as they drive behind yet another slow-moving campus shuttle, is a calm place to study outdoors or play ultimate frisbee with friends after class; many students love to hike around the woods and explore new terrain.
But when the sun goes down, the woods become exactly that: a large, forested area with little sign of civilization. The picturesque city park instantly becomes a habitat for late-night crime.
Many students who avoided paying for a parking pass this semester use Elmwood’s parking lot or side streets and walk to campus from there. Unfortunately for those with night classes, there are only lights in the parking lots. Students that choose to park their vehicles on the street have a higher chance of being assaulted or having items stolen out of their cars.
According to the Omaha Crime Report, a majority of the most recent crimes in Elmwood Park involve theft. Without cameras or a convenient way for eye-witnesses to report crime, students are left with almost nothing to protect their belongings, or more importantly, themselves.
A big concern is the absence of blue light emergency phones in the park as Elmwood Park is not part of UNO’s campus. These emergency phones scatter both campuses,where the walkways are well-lit at night, yet do not exist near the dark woods. The only time campus security is near the park is while driving between the separate campuses.
Although students can text campus security if they become endangered, it may just make more sense to call 911. After all, campus security can’t arrest perpetrators, especially off-campus.
A list of safety tips for walking on campus at night can be found on UNO’s website and many points are applicable for navigating Elmwood as well. Campus security urges students to walk to their cars with keys in hand. Always keep cars locked and windows up. Finally, walk as often as possible with a friend or someone you trust.