It’s 7:45 p.m. on a Tuesday. Commuter students’ cars are tucked into their parking spaces while their owners are in night classes. Upon a second glance, a white Nissan Maxima has headlights turned on, and less than 50 feet away, a gray BMW’s lights are also slowly but surely draining the car’s battery power.
Students tend to point students to campus police, but police are refusing to help because of departmental regulations enacted to discourage liability issues – all stemming from occurrences in the past in which people got sued for helping other people.
Public services undergrad Kanosha Whitley, along with other University of Memphis students who assume Police Services can assist them, is surprised to hear that stranded students sent to police services will be turned away with no alternatives.
Whitley believes there is a crime risk for the campus not to have some safety net for students who could end up potentially stranded in the evening.
“I’m hoping we have some service to help students at this time of night, especially for something as simple as jumping a dead car battery. Not every student is going to be mechanically savvy,” said Whitley, who then pointed towards an additional vehicle’s lights left beaming and who’s owner was likely still in class that evening.
A police officer patrolling the lot stopped for a minute verifying that it would be completely useless to call the police on this matter, mentioning that we are considered the safest school in the state of Tennessee.
A recent study said that the University of Memphis is the safest campus in Tennessee in terms of number of reported crimes. The story credits the campus’ superior lighting and technology.
However, it could be that there is a response bias in this study, said William Terry, a statistics graduate student and researcher.
“Crimes at the University of Memphis are possibly under-reported resulting in a low crime rate,” Terry said.
The general consensus among students is to either know how to work jumper cables, know somebody who knows somebody or abandon your vehicle for the night and get a ride home.
But some students are especially ingenious when it comes to mechanical forethought.
Patrick Harrison, a mechanical engineering student, said he carries a spare car battery and a self-jumping car battery in his vehicle.
“When someone needs help the universal sign for a dead car battery is seeing the hood of a car raised,” said Harrison.
Harrison,who doesn’t have a problem helping the stranded, said he has received criticism from a few friends for helping strangers.
Others like Cody Barton, a forensic anthropology student, said he’s thrilled to have made acquaintances with professors and graduate students in the engineering technology building because they are good at fixing things and apparently quite generous.
“I would definitely go with alternative options," said Ashleigh Arnwire, a professional health services senior who carries her own set of jumper cables. "You can always rent a tiger bike or leave a vehicle until you can get help.”