Another Mardi Gras has come and gone. Around this time of year, freshmen students may be relishing the feeling that they’ve finally adjusted to living in New Orleans. Sophomore students may be considering leases and searching for off-campus housing throughout the city. And as spring begins and the weather gets warm, we enter the golden period before extreme humidity closes it’s jaws over the region. This is a time of year in which we exhale, sit back and agree: it’s good to live in New Orleans.
But feeling comfortable doesn’t mean we should get lazy with our awareness and safety.
In recent months, there have been a disturbing number shootings on Bourbon Street, a place college students and tourists frequent often. Just this last weekend, someone opened fire on a motorist in the French Quarter. The night before, three people – including a teenager – were robbed at gunpoint in the same few blocks. A Loyola student made public on his Facebook account that he was wounded in the foot earlier this month when shrapnel from a stray bullet hit him.
New Orleans is a city with a party culture that creates a unique college life. There is nothing wrong with having fun, but it is imperative that we take measures to keep ourselves safe. Many of us know people that don’t lock their doors when they leave their houses. Some students may opt to walk home alone late at night in lieu of an expensive Lyft ride. Others may get too drunk in the French Quarter and wander around alone.
As college students, we should be aware that crime is relevant in our city and that we are often easy targets. Many of us are not as familiar with the city or safety precautions. In places like Bourbon Street – or even our own local bars – we must be aware of our surroundings and the situations we’re in. It’s true that there is a laissez-faire attitude to both our city and being a young adult. But laissez-faire doesn’t mean you should put yourself in situations where you are likely to become a victim.
For students currently in the process of searching for off-campus housing or finding a lease, ask yourself: is this in an area I would feel comfortable at night in? When moving in, be sure to keep a watch on your things – a lot of furniture and boxes piled in the driveway, unattended, is an easy setup for petty theft. Make sure that you or your roommates are entering a living situation in which you will feel safe.
It is ideal to be safe but still have fun in New Orleans. As students, it is vital that we create a balance of both these things. There are many ways to protect ourselves and our fellow community members from crime, and they involve taking proper precautions and being aware of our surroundings. As we become comfortable living here, we ought to be certain we are maintaining these efforts.