The story that I chose to cover this past week for Journalism 459 focused on the safety of students here at WVU. In the past few years there have been a few high profile cases of assault at West Virginia University. WVU has long been regarded as one of the safiest schools in the nation and Morgantown has even been called the best little city in the country by leading news organizations. In fact, in 2010, Readers Digest named WVU as the 18th safest school in the country.
With this being the case why have there been a few cases of assault in the past year that were so brutal? In 2009 Ryan Diviney was brutally beaten outside of the Dairy Mart in Downtown Morgantown over an argument regarding sports. In such a safe town how can something like this happen? Diviney is permanently incapacitated and suffers from a severely diminished mental capacity. He will never be able to speak to his family again. While he was not murdered, his family lost their son foe=rever over some so stupid and trivial. His assailants are being punished for their crimes, but it still leaves many asking why.
This story was on my mind as i set out to create my story. I took footage of students walking in front of the Mountain Lair because the Mountain Lair had too been the recent location for another assault that did not result in the same loss of life, but is still inexcusable.
I filmed students and faculty walking to and from class living their daily lives. How can a place such as this that every Mountaineer calls home be the site for an aggravated assault. Without being sensational, it is safe to say that the school has a problem. It is not that the students here at WVU are violent or becoming more violent, I do not believe that is the case. I do however, believe that there are more and more students arriving at this school every year. They are becoming more diverse and are coming from all around the world. With a student population as large as ours their are bound to be some rotten eggs in the bunch. This is tragic but true.
However, there are things that can be done in order to stop these events from occurring. Their needs to be more responsibility on the side of the police to help protect the students here. I know drinking is a problem at this school, but I See more police being sent to break up parties that are not even out of control for noise violations and less patrolling the streets to help stop violent crimes.
I did all of fact gathering and research before conducting any interviews or filming any B-roll. As I mentioned before, the majority of my B-roll was shot in front of the Mountain Lair. I decided to find a random person on the street to ask question for my interview. I found a student named Chelsea Schoff. She offered a lot of great incite into her feelings on the safety of this school and the campus. She remarked that she often felt unsafe while walking through campus and downtown at night. She said she always carries pepper spray just in case something happens. She also makes an effort at night to talk on her cell phone while walking. I found this interesting, but it makes sense. Typically, assailants, thieves or others that may cause you harm go for the easiest victim. If you are talking on your cell phone they may ignore you. it is the same principle that is applied to home robberies. Police say that if your front door is locked then your chances of being robbed severely decline. Most robberies take place in homes that have unlocked doors. Thieves and others will take the easiest route. She offered some great sound bites that made my story.