University circle boasts some of Cleveland's finest development — and worst crime.

On the Border 

University circle boasts some of Cleveland's finest development — and worst crime.

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In 2006, CWRU launched its own security force. The school also funnels money to University Circle Inc., as well, which funds University Circle police.

North of Wade Park, however, it's solely the purview of Cleveland police.

The university is constantly monitoring and sending out updates about crime in those off-campus areas where students live via its site, text messages, and e-mails.

In recent years, a disproportionate amount of those have come from or near the Wade Park neighborhood. The Sigma Alpha Mu house is one example, the muggings on bicycles at gunpoint are another.

"Like any urban campus in a major city, you have crime occur from time to time," says Dick Jameson, vice president of Campus Services at CWRU. "We've taken a number of steps to prevent situations like that from occurring, including major investments in our own police department, and investment in University Circle. We certainly promote the fact that we have patrols, alerting students to report suspicious activity, as well as safe rides and safety classes."

The CWRU crime log since Fall 2011 reveals incidents involving students and non-students all around campus, ranging from robberies at bus stations along Euclid Ave. to sexual assaults on E. 118th. St. There's crime on campus proper, too, but the majority of incidents occur just over the campus borders.

"We always hope to have zero crime," says Jameson. "That might not be realistic, but we do the best we can. We rank pretty well when you consider similar schools in similar cities. We certainly don't like having crimes occur, but we're going to continue to conduct business.

"I think we certainly added much of our additional focus and resources on the north side of campus because there's more historic activity there than other parts of campus," he adds. "We do beef up patrols there, as well as additional measures."

Neighborhood residents told Scene that the university has had security cameras on a specific building bordering campus suspected of being a drug house. Jameson wouldn't comment.

"I'm not going to get into any specifics," he says. "If there's information to be garnered through surveillance, either of crime in progress or suspicious activity, we would routinely have that followed up, either by ourselves or we turn it over to the city of Cleveland."

And does the administration caution students against living in or frequenting the area?

"There's no active advice that goes out to tell people not to live in the area," says Jameson. "Although we do advise people about the risks of walking off campus. Listen, students talk to each other, so it's self-fulfilling. Students get the idea of where it's safe and where it's not, especially coupled with our safety programs."

***

This past spring, 21-year-old Andrew Shriver was walking near E. 115th and Wade Park when he was approached by a young black male on a bicycle.

"I was on the phone," he says. "And a kid came up and asked me for a cigarette or a dollar or whatever. All of a sudden, he pulls a gun and tells me to empty my pockets. I gave him whatever I had — like seven bucks and an iPod. He didn't even get my phone, which was in my hand. I ran and got the Case cops. They caught him a little while later; he and a friend were shooting off BB guns on campus."

The CWRU student identified the suspect in a lineup after the arrest. The last he heard, the juvenile, who was under 18, pleaded out to six months in jail and will be released this winter.

Shriver wasn't too shaken. It was just what happens. It doesn't happen all the time, and he doesn't think about it.

***

It's hard not to see race at the bottom of it all. Predominantly white residents in border neighborhoods. Predominantly white and wealthy students at CWRU, where tuition runs north of $56,000 a year. All affected by crime predominantly perpetrated by young black youth. The numbers bear it out, along with anecdotal evidence and assumptions from both the victims of previous crimes and current students.

Ask Roynane about issues of crime in the neighborhood — both University Circle proper and its surrounding areas — and he'll bring up the matter of race without being asked about it. He starts his answer by going back nearly 50 years to the riots in Hough and other enclaves. And he notes that University Circle, as the century-old result of an original idea for an arts, medical, and culture capital, intentionally didn't set up boundaries.

"Instead of building the proverbial wall, University Circle formed a collaboration of over 40 nonprofits to help kids," he says. "We built an education program that in any year services between 15,000 and 30,000 kids. Instead of turning away from the problem in the '60s, we turned toward it. We recognize that in the neighborhoods around us, there are challenges economically. Our vision is that it's not good enough for the Circle to succeed; we have to leverage that growth into the areas around us."

The incidents on E. 118th St. and Wade Park involving the frat house and the Anderson boys drew University Circle police attention. But their territory ends at Wade Park. It's a border, hard and fast, limited by the non-profit's deal with the state and the city of Cleveland. Ronayne doesn't want that to be the case.

"We're working with the city to extend those police boundaries," he says. "Our last action plan, in 2011, was called Beyond the Circle. We'd like to move out beyond University Circle and service the neighborhoods around us. We don't want to wall them off."

Meanwhile, all the students who were staying at the Sigma Alpha Mu house have moved out.

"Where I live now, I can leave the front door unlocked and not worry about it," says one. "It's nice. It's freeing."

The house they had occupied has been boarded up. The Anderson boys are in custody. The students could have stayed, but it wasn't worth it.

Noting what happened to Lataevia Williams, one of them says, "If we stayed, it might have been one of us."

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