Commentary: Boston’s students shouldn’t live in fear of violence

Not long ago, my friends and I would get our once-a-week adrenaline rush at a local suburban movie theater, seeing horrors like “The Devil’s Rejects” and “Saw 2.” As a Northeastern student enrolled in the five-year program, I will be spending most of my time here in the city, and thus my need to see these horror flicks for my adrenaline fix has ceased.

Now I get my adrenaline fix daily, watching my own back when I’m not watching my girlfriend’s around my neighborhood in the Mission Hill/Roxbury Crossing area of Boston. It is not the most dangerous area of the city, but it’s by no means the safest. It seems a majority of this year’s homicides have gone down in Dorchester, but Boston’s other two danger zones, Mattapan and Roxbury, have not gone unscathed.

I am never afraid to walk home alone late at night, and I may be exaggerating this fear factor, but the onslaught of Globe articles and the highest homicide rate to date since 1990 stare me in the face every day. 616. That is the projected number of shootings by the end of the year at the current rate, up from 550 in 1990.

I am taking into consideration that most shootings are not random acts of violence, but there are still a handful of unlucky people caught in crossfire every year. And after my recent trip to Prague and Germany, I realize that watching your back is a good habit to get into no matter what city you are in.

A few months ago my friend’s girlfriend was attacked just down the road from my apartment. She fought back and managed to escape what she described as a traumatic experience and at the least, an attempted rape.

Last week while waiting with a group at Ruggles station, located in the heart of the Northeastern campus, a man staggered around and approached several people looking for train money. He appeared to be under the influence. We were lucky enough to avoid contact with him, but it seems an officer or two patrolling the area would help people feel they have a better chance of making it home.

Both events sounded an alarm to me. No longer will I allow my friends, particularly my girlfriend, to wait for late night trains at Ruggles or walk back in the dark from the nearby T stop.

And of course, there is the weekly five-man group that approaches me with marijuana or other drugs, and the random guy wandering around, sometimes inside our apartment building (supposedly, he is part of the construction crew).

Governor Mitt Romney is reportedly allocating a chunk of money toward curbing this violence, but until I have good reason to believe Boston is safe, I will continue to ditch the headphones, watch my back and lock all the doors behind me.

– Ricky Popolizio is a junior journalism major and a member of the News staff.

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