After campus shootings, UChicago responds with increased safety measures


Malcolm Taylor

Individuals rally during a student-run protest Nov. 16 on the lack of campus security on the University of Chicago Main Quadrangle after the off-campus shooting death of Shaoxiong Zheng. Students chanted “One block off campus” and “We are here to learn, not to die.”

Berk Oto, Editor-in-Chief

After two shootings took place blocks from the school on Nov. 9, the University of Chicago is responding with increased security measures. In addition, hundreds of University of Chicago community members signed a call to action for the university to make safety a top priority ahead of a student-organized protest on Nov. 16.

The first shooting, an attempted armed robbery, left UChicago graduate Shaoxiong “Dennis” Zheng shot and killed. The second shooting took place on 53rd Street resulting in damage to businesses and parked vehicles.

While the community processed these violent incidents, in a webinar on Nov. 11, university leaders announced additional safety measures including adding more surveillance cameras, police patrols and transit options for students. University President Paul Alivisatos, Provost Ka Yee Lee, and Eric Heath, the associate vice president for safety and security, hosted the event to mitigate concerns over the recent uptick in crime.

Among the new measures is an expansion of the Lyft Ride Smart program, which will now be available to UChicago students after 9 p.m. every day until Nov. 24, instead of only Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. In addition, UChicago is expanding service for the UGo shuttle system to include more CTA stations and locations on Garfield Boulevard.

In addition to providing more opportunities for safe transportation, the University of Chicago Police Department is strengthening its cooperation with the Chicago Police Department to find long-term solutions to the problem, Mr. Heath said during the webinar.

Over the next two weeks, CPD will be developing a long-term strategic plan to address the rise in crime, including gun violence plaguing the community surrounding our institution.

— Eric Heath

“Over the next two weeks, CPD will be developing a long-term strategic plan to address the rise in crime, including gun violence plaguing the community surrounding our institution,” Mr. Heath said. “The Department of Safety and Security will be included in that planning process.” 

In the meantime, CPD is temporarily adding a “significant” number of officers to patrol Hyde Park and installing additional police observation devices. Mr. Heath claimed that these observation devices, or cameras, deter crime and help identify subjects to make arrests.

On Nov. 12, CPD announced that it arrested a suspect for the murder of Mr. Zheng.

All three university officials at the webinar expressed their condolences for Mr. Zheng’s death and stressed that campus safety is a university priority.

“These issues are also personal for me as a parent,” Ms. Lee, who is a parent of a current U-High student and two alumni, said. “My family and I have lived in Hyde Park for many years. It is a truly wonderful community, which also faces, unfortunately, the challenges that are faced in urban neighborhoods around the country. I know what it means to be concerned about keeping your children safe in a big city.”