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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Under-publicized Gunpoint Robbery: UMB Fails To Fully Inform Students


Robbery at gunpoint adjacent to campus.

On Feb. 22, an armed robbery took place near The Peninsula apartment buildings.  This is a place hundreds of students walk by every day, a place many UMass Boston students call home.  What’s more, the victim of the robbery was a UMass Boston student. Surprisingly, the event did not even warrant a headline on the UMass Boston’s own website.  Clearly, the website failed to fulfill its duty to inform students about the things they need to know.

True, the incident was broadcast to students by a public safety alert email.  But that form of communication would not reach anyone who doesn’t have a UMass Boston email address.  Besides, how many students have 24-hour access to email? What about students who use non-smart phones? Any student who hadn’t read the email could have been oblivious to the potential danger in walking along the paths of The Peninsula and Harbor Point apartments alone that night.

The email, for those who did read it, contained this intriguing sentence:  “When issues of concern arise that affect the UMass Boston campus, it is our practice to inform our community through a Public Safety Alert.”  Certainly, a robbery with a deadly weapon is an issue of concern, but has the community really been properly informed of this? Are the surrounding areas of Dorchester not a part of our community?

You can bet your bottom dollar that any event making the university look good would be plastered all over the UMass Boston website. Events like “UMass Boston Alumnus’ Documentary to Air on Oprah Winfrey’s OWN Network on March 1” are what usually grace the home page.  This robbery, in contrast, couldn’t even get a lowly tweet from the official UMass Boston twitter page. Yet, the administration claims to care for the welfare of the student body.

Dewayne Lehman, director of communications, referred to the incident as “isolated,” that it “didn’t pose an immediate threat to our community.” Lehman also revealed that the handlers of the university’s official twitter account might not have even heard about the incident.

How can the university claim to disseminate information effectively when the responsible parties have no clue what’s going on?

Lehman further said, “The audience we really needed to reach are the local Harbor Point and Peninsula students – all of which have been informed via email.”  Yet, a lot of people reading this right now are probably just hearing about the incident for the first time.

The university needs to become a lot less selective about the information that is made public. Besides the headlines that makes the school good, the university also needs to publish information about less sexy but equally pivotal occurrences. By not doing so we are only distancing ourselves from the community.

UMass Boston is located in Dorchester:  let’s not try to hide from that.

About the Contributor
Osahh Aim served as opinions editor for The Mass Media the following years: Spring 2012; 2012-2013; 2013-2014; 2014-2015 Aim also briefly served as Managing Editor in Spring 2015.