University President George Ross said he is confident Central Michigan University’s campus remains safe, despite the recent string of armed robberies and other crimes in recent months.
“We live in a society that does not make this campus immune,” Ross said during a meeting with Central Michigan Life. “But if you look at the overall crime statistics for this campus, we’re still a very safe campus. I stand by that.”
Ross said the string of five armed robberies earlier in the week in Mount Pleasant and Union Township, in addition to the January abduction and rape of a Grand Rapids senior, make him concerned for students’ safety.
“(The robberies) didn’t happen on campus,” he said. “(They) happened near campus, though. I’m concerned, but probably no more concerned than the mayor of Mount Pleasant, or the police in Mount Pleasant and probably no more concerned than (Isabella County) Sheriff (Leo) Mioduszewski.”
Ross said he will continue to have police and university officials review policies in the case of emergency or threats to campus safety.
“We’re under constant review,” he said. “There are discussions about our police patrols on campus, about the lighting grid, about blue lights, about our Safe Rides escort program, about Central Alert.”
As previously reported by CM Life, the Safe Rides program saw its ridership numbers double in the wake of the abduction incident.
“(Safe Rides) provides another opportunity for our campus community to be safe and is designed for individuals to not have to walk across campus in any danger,” CMU Police Chief Bill Yeagley said last month.
Ross reiterated that campus safety remains his top priority as president.
“If one thing keeps me up at night, it’s potential harm to students and faculty on this campus,” he said. “But, we live in the real world.”
As reported by CM Life, Vincent Miguel Belmarez, 28, was arraigned Thursday on charges stemming from the Sunday robbery of the Subway restaurant located at 203 N. Mission St. Police are still investigating the other four robberies.
In addition to the five robberies and the abduction, the area has seen a jump in notable crimes and other incidents during this academic year.
On Feb. 6, an armed robbery was reported on the corner of Main and May streets, just north of campus.
On Feb. 1, a 20-year-old man was stabbed after he entered an apartment without permission, marking the fourth stabbing since September. Most notably, 20-year-old Mount Pleasant resident Tyrone D. Stanley died from a stab wound Nov. 24 in an apartment on Main Street.
Additionally, 55-year-old John Douglas White is alleged to have murdered Rebekah Jane Gay, 24, in her Broomfield Township home.
That’s on top of an incident involving former CMU student Kayla Ashlyn Bonkowski, 19, who is accused of poisoning her roommate’s iced tea with bleach.
Ross said the recent crimes have concerned him as a Mount Pleasant resident.
“I live in this community,” Ross said. “My wife is active in this community with her volunteer activities. We think we’ve taken additional actions to improve the safety on our campus. We will continue to review that and monitor that.”