Op-Ed: Only thing welcoming about Parkland is PLU.

Update:

PLU has many programs that are working to change students perception of Parkland, including the Center for Community Engagement and Service. The programs reach out to the community and show students everything positive that is going on.

These programs get students involved with the community, and encourage students to leave the Lute Dome.

Many students have had similar experiences as me  though, and they apply their experience to the entire community.

When nearly every person I talk to has been affected by crime in Parkland, it makes me think that it’s not just a coincidence that I began having a negative experience within a few weeks of living here.

It is as shame that the crime in Parkland is overpowering everything positive that happens in Parkland, but that is reality. Negative things are what tend to stick with people.

I still believe it is PLU”s responsibility to inform its students about the crime. I feel Parkland crime is greatly misrepresented to students and Parents.

My parents were told not to worry, that there is a sheriff that is hired to patrol campus. That is true, but despite the great presence of police, it is still very easy for people to commit crimes, and to get away with it.

I recommend not only to lock your valuable possessions, but also to keep them out of sight and out of your car. Locking doesn’t prevent theft, but actually forces you to fix any damages.

Original Post:

I have been told time and time again by Pacific Lutheran University that Parkland is a great community.  PLU says there is a lot to explore and that Parkland is very welcoming.

My experience tells me the opposite. Within the short time I have lived here, I have lost over $1,000 because of the crime-riddled community I live in.

Within the first five weeks of class, PLU had already had more bikes stolen than the entire previous year, and mine was one of them.

I thought locking the bike that I had built from the ground up would protect it from Parkland thieves  I was wrong. They cut my lock and took my bike, forcing me to either walk or drive wherever I needed.

I no longer have fast transportation that doesn’t rely on gas, or more importantly, my empty wallet.

After this incident, I figured I was just unlucky and dismissed it. It was bound to happen sometime and I hadn’t had anything stolen from me before.

A couple weeks ago, someone broke the back window of my car and stole my cheap sub-woofer and my broken iPod.  The repairs for the window cost more than the stuff they took.

The part I don’t understand is that if they knew what they were doing, why did they leave my amplifier, my stereo, my aftermarket speakers, and my GPS? All of these things were in sight, unlike my sub-woofer and iPod.

Not only is Parkland not safe, but the people committing these acts are idiots.

But theft isn’t the only problem in Parkland.

A friend of mine was walking home to his dorm alone one night and he was jumped – unprovoked – by five teens. The teens beat him for several minutes.  He couldn’t see clearly for the next several weeks.

Sure, these are just three specific instances that don’t happen to everybody, but Parkland has more crime than other parts of Tacoma.

Residential vandalism has increased 400 percent over the last year. Crime in general has increased 29 percent, according to Pierce County Crime Data.

Spanaway has only seen a 9 percent increase in crime.

Tacoma has seen a 5 percent increase in property damage over the last year, but an 8 percent decrease in crime.

These stats for theft may actually be lower than they should be.

According to the Department of Justice, 67 percent of household thefts go unreported to police.

In my 19 years of existence, I have never felt as unsafe as I do now. My property has been stolen and broken, causing damages I can’t afford to pay. My friend was beaten by a gang of teens, unprovoked.

PLU lies when it tells students that the Parkland community is welcoming. The only thing welcoming about Parkland is PLU. Getting my degree is the only reason I am willing to endure Parkland.



Categories: Opinion

7 replies

  1. Yeah the beatings are getting a little out of hand, we have no word on the guy who beat the guy down in Spanaway back in February. Police really need to step it up around Pac Ave.

  2. I’ve lived in Parkland for 6 years now, 4 of them as a student at PLU, 2 as a freelance journalist and media professional picking up odd jobs wherever I could find them

    I’ve been robbed too. I’ve been threatened. I’ve seen the ugly side of this area, and I know exactly who some of these people are. I would however like to mention a certain PLU student who was robbing classmates and blaming it on Parkland Youth. Parkland locals are frequently used as a scapegoat when plenty of PLU students have been equally guilty of theft and vandalism.

    When I think about Parkland, those aren’t the people I think of. I think of Ralph and Vicki Johns, a pair of small scale farmers who gave me a roof over my head for cheap when I was an unemployed college graduate in a terrible economy. I think of Ed Cedras, owner and manager of the Northern Pacific Coffee Company who’s passion for coffee and music is rivaled only by his love for his family and his community. I think of Stella and Thor Goodwater, the owners of Longship Trade Goods, and their passion for keeping history alive and educating people about Scandinavian culture. I think of Michael Gee, a blue collar guy as well as a talented Singer Songwriter. I think of Julie Collison, realtor, entrepreneur, and pillar of her community.

    A lot of businesses and workers here struggle, because quite frankly, the students who in theory should be a boost to the local economy, largely refuse to support local businesses opting instead to stay in the lute dome. They surely wouldn’t want to be out there with “those people”

    Well, I’m proud to say I am one of “those people.” The Parkland I know is a community where blue collar laborers, starving artists, and business owners mingle seamlessly. It’s a place where you can ask your neighbor for a favor. It’s a place where people work together. And you’re welcome to come out and talk to us any time.

    Kevin Knodell
    Content Manager
    discoverparkland.com

  3. I think it’s safe to say that probably no area in Pierce County goes without some crime. It is unfortunate that this young man has had some bad luck and I am sorry to hear about that. To disparage an entire area, however, after just living here briefly seems like a lot of sour grapes. I checked out the Pierce County crime data, too. I noticed that there are four listings for Parkland: Parkland Gardens, Parkland Heights, Parkland Place and Parkland Townsite. The first of the Parkland areas, Parkland Gardens showed absolutely NO CRIME WHATSOEVER in 2012 to Feb 2013; Parkland Heights had only one burglary in 2012 and NONE in 2013; Parkland Heights only showed one “other” theft in 2013 and NONE at all in 2012, the Parkland Townsite did show a 400% increase in residential vandalism, however, we are only talking about 10 occurrences, and property crimes dropped in other areas, reflecting only a 56% increase in property crimes total. Spanaway had 12 occurrences of residential vandalism in the same time period. It’s easy to skew data to support your case. I hope Mr. Major will give Parkland another chance and I would like to say: “Welcome to Parkland” 🙂 There are a lot of good people here that are doing a lot of good things for each other and the community. Kevin Knodell is one of them. Thanks, Kevin for your support of our beautiful community.
    Sincerely, your local friendly Realtor, Julie Collison, Collison Realty LLC 253-531-8303
    P.S. I am glad to hear that Pacific Lutheran University is telling you that Parkland is a great community. Go Lutes!

    • Jesse,

      Personally, after living here for three years I can’t imagine having lived anywhere else. Since I have spent the last three years living off campus in the Parkland-area both as a student and an employee I can say that I have always felt safe. Regardless of what facts you can find about the safety of Parkland online. Sure there are times when I wouldn’t want to walk home alone at night, but honestly having been raised in a small farm town, I can say its like that EVERYWHERE! I don’t even think I would want to walk home alone in my hometown, which has a population of 3000 people and an incredibly tiny crime rate. I think often people are willing to take a bad experience and blame it on the people that are living in the area instead of thinking that it could just be people in general.

      I will admit, having your car broken into sucks. But there is no way you can prove that it is Parkland’s fault. In fact, it could have been a number of things. Did you park it in a Campus Safety patrolled and monitored lot? If not, it’s partially your fault and your choice to have left your car on the street. If you have valuables sitting out in the open in your car, then that’s a foolish choice regardless of where you choose to park your car. You could park it in the mall parking lot, or in a park in Gig Harbor and there will still be the same chance that someone is going to break into your car. Not that you’re to blame, but I feel like its important for you to take some of the responsibility for the problem and not just blame the area you are living in.

      I think that PLU is a wonderful school, and that Parkland is a great place to call home. Sure, it has its downfalls but so do Lakewood, Spanaway, Tacoma, Seattle, Bellevue, Federal Way, Fife…. and about 99% of the cities you could be living in.

      Emily

  4. I agree with this article so much.
    I am one of the many international students from Norway at PLU, but my knowledge and experience of American communities goes beyond just Parkland. I used to live in Florida with my entire family. I have attended 2 years of high school and lived in a normal apartment, not a gated community. I was free to walk where ever i wanted, never scared. My school in Florida had two “evacuations” in 2 years which was based upon someone writing a bomb threat in the bathroom.

    Since i moved to parkland I have felt unsafe, and that is with good reasons. lock-downs at PLU occur very often. A lock down is a safety precaution because a threat is close enough to campus that PLU fears it can affect its students. If i walk outside after dusk, alone or with another girl, I get stopped by the police. The police attempt to help me. They make sure i am not drunk, that i know where i am headed etc…

    My first semester at PLU I walked to Walgreens to return a redbox movie with my friend. The police of course stopped us at the stores parking lot and forced us to call campus safety for a ride home. PLU apparently is not allowed to help a student that is “off campus”. We were required us to cross Pacific Ave. to get a ride back to campus. That seemed ridiculous to me.

    This semester alone, which we are only half way through, has had one lock down due to a shooting at mcdonalds on Pacific Ave. – just a couple blocks away from school. My neighbors car has been broken into 9 times these past 18 months.

    PLU has created a gated community for their students, showing us we are safe and taken care off as long as we are on their property. But at the same time they are telling us to get off campus and explore the community around us. They tell us it is just as safe off campus as on campus. But that is not true.

    Shootings, thefts and friends being jumped mere blocks away from campus is not a safe community. When girls like myself are getting stopped by the police on their way home from an 8pm class because they are walking alone makes it sound like the people who is informed – the police – understands the danger of this “welcoming” community. I have friends carrying mace because they do not feel safe.

    He is not calling PLU a bad school. He is not saying that parkland does not have good people. He is saying that PLU should not be pushing their students out of a gated community while sheltering us from the truth about the amount of crime and the dangers that are all around us. Mr. Major feels lied to, as does his parents.

    I feel lied to as well. I never had the opportunity to check out the area around the school before i accepted my spot. I was promised that the school was in a fun, safe and welcoming area. The school should make their students aware of the crime around us, but also remind us that when we are on campus they will shelter us and help us.

  5. That was my son who was beat viciously, by 5 men, he was also chased before that incident, by a group of men threatening to “cut him”. He had to have plastic surgery to repair his both of broken eye sockets. The police have made no arrests, and were actually quite rude and dismissive about pursuing charges! As of today, no charges, and no return phone calls to get information! I am seriously considering going to the media with this story, so here it is! Kacee no longer is sure he wants to remain in the neighborhood of this type of violence, I believe that the school should make students much more aware of the dangers when attending PLU!

  6. I can logically understand the concerns that have been voiced here, especially since I grew up in fairly cushy neighborhoods north of here with a high socioeconomic average. I was a student at PLU and now I have a full-time job in this community and have lived in the Parkland Community for over six years.

    My response to many of the complaints lodged here is: Be Proactive and Use Common Sense.

    Don’t walk alone at night anywhere (Parkland or not), regardless of your personal perception of safety. When you do walk around, walk with your head held high and with confidence. Look people in the eye. Many times the appearance of confidence and purpose deters individuals from attempting to cause harm. Do not have your headphones in and eyes glued to your phone.

    When done riding a bicycle, lock it up with a Campus Safety recommended Metal U-lock, not a cable lock (they are easily cut with bolt cutters bought at your local hardware store) and lock it through the frame (not the tire) of your bike. If you have things that can come off your bike (easily stolen), take them with you to class. While out walking my dog, I’ve seen some of the Campus Safety Officers when they ride their bikes take everything (seat, lights, first-aid kits) with them because they have made themselves aware of the risk.

    Park your vehicle in a well-lit, monitored parking lot in view of a camera. Do not leave anything valuable in your vehicle, lock it up, and check on it periodically if it is going to sit sedentary fora few days. These are all basic responsibilities of owning a vehicle. Also, do some research before you purchase a vehicle: if it is on the ‘Top Ten Most Stolen/Vandalized Vehicles’ List, maybe you shouldn’t buy it.

    If you want to go have a night out and ‘party it up’ and local student houses around campus, feel free to do so…but you do so at your own risk. Before you go, find a group of friends to go with so you can all look after one another. Find out if the house your going to is inside the escort perimeter for Campus Safety escorts. Find out if it is a PLU student only party or if individuals from the local community will be there as well. If you make a sub-par decision because you are intoxicated, it is not the community’s fault. It’s yours.

    If you wanted to go to school in a place with a Utopian environment, maybe you should have done your homework. The federal government requires all schools that receive any federal funding to post their Clery statistics (if you don’t know what those are, that fact in and of itself should indicate something to you). PLU posts theirs on their website. Do your own research into the area’s crime and socioeconomic information before enrolling. That is your responsibility as an interested student, not the institutions. From my experience as a student, PLU does not hide anything. During orientation my parents and I went to the session about security and proactive safety habits. I attended the yearly campus safety forums because I wanted to know what’s going on.

    If you perceive Parkland to be such an ‘unsafe’ area, do something about it. Participate in ‘Take Back the Night’ and ‘Safe Streets’. Become ‘Green Dot’ certified. Volunteer your time at the local middle high school and build relationships with the youth. If they know you, they won’t target you (or hopefully anyone for that matter). If you see something suspicious on campus, report it. Don’t just watch and think ‘Oh, that’s weird’. Let someone know! If you witness something, speak up!

    I, too, have been victim to random acts of vandalism and violence…but don’t let it turn you into a pessimistic curmudgeon. I had my car broken into. My sister was assaulted and mugged. I’ve had equipment stolen off my bike. These things happen. Instead of blaming the institution or community, do somethings about it!

    My heartfelt condolences go out to the student who was beaten and his family. I am sorry that this random act of violence visited your family in such a far-reaching fashion. I truly hope it never happens again and that everyone can recover fully.

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