In a recent article to the Daily Pennsylvanian , Geoffrey Peck from the Law School asks the administration to "get serious" about the problem of public safety and the issue of crime on and around the campus. I agree. Particularly those of us who live near, as well as work at, Penn have good cause to be alarmed by the robberies, muggings and murders that have recently taken place in University City and in the Powelton area. But how is safety to be provided? The standard solutionmore policemen and retreat from a threatening urban worldseems to me to be not only shortsighted, but ultimately counterproductive. Jane Jacobs reminded us decades ago that safe neighborhoods were communities with an active street life, ones where local people, not only police, enforce the standards of civility that make high density living possible. Penn's policies on transportation, on mortgages, on real estate rental, on aid to local schools have far more impact on the public safety issue than does the number of police or blue light phones it puts on the local streets.
If you want to add your voice to discussions of University policy in West Philadelphia, I urge you to join the PFSNI (Penn Faculty and Staff for Neighborhood Issues) listserver. Particularly if you live in zip codes 19104, 19143, 19131, 19139, 19153 and would like to learn more about what is beingand what should bedone to improve the neighborhoods west of the Schuylkill River, e-mail email@example.com. Leave the subject heading blank, but include the message: subscribe pfsni. To send messages to the listserver, simply e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. It's time for the residents to speak out for policies that help, rather than undermine, the quality of life in West Philadelphia.
Lynn Hollen Lees,
Professor and Chair of History
February 6, 1996
Volume 42 Number 19
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