Madison Fernandez, ‘17
In the annual NYC school survey for the academic year of 20142015, nearly 100% of BHSEC students agreed that they felt safe in school, a percentage that has increased from the 20132014 academic year. 79% of BHSEC students strongly agreed that they felt safe in the in the hallways, bathrooms, locker rooms, and cafeteria of the school, and 83% strongly agreed that they felt safe in their classes. However, only 51% of BHSEC students agreed that the felt safe travelling between home and school and outside around the school. BHSEC is a generally safe environment inside of the school thanks to security, but outside of the building is something that cannot be so readily controlled.
In the past semester, a number of incidents have occurred in the area surrounding BHSEC, including places that BHSEC students frequent. On November 12, three sexual assaults and robberies took place in the neighboring Baruch Houses. The first occurred when the suspect followed the victim into her apartment on James Street, and the second when a separate victim was followed into her building on Broome Street. The suspect waited for the third victim inside the stairwell of her building and attacked. This has been attributed to the lack of maintenance on the broken locks of the Baruch Houses; if the locks were fixed, he could not have gotten in. These attacks occurred in the morning, approximately between 6 and 8 AM, a time when BHSEC students may find themselves walking to school. Although these incidents have to do with the safety of the Baruch Houses and the suspect has been arrested, BHSEC students find it worrisome that these attacks have happened so close to home.
On November 25, another sexual assault occurred at East River Park, where BHSEC students go for lunch, sports, or after school activities. Although this attack took place near 8 PM, it is important to remain alert. It is the time of year where it gets darker earlier, making it more difficult to see when walking outside. If a BHSEC student does not leave within an hour after classes end, they will be walking to the train station in the dark. “I get nervous when I walk alone, especially when it gets dark,” says Arpita Banik, 9th grade. Some students have chosen to take alternate paths both to and from school; while a vast majority of BHSEC walks down Rivington through the Baruch Houses, others decide to walk down East Houston or take the bus.
Although wanted posters lined the street in front of BHSEC and emails were sent out, many BHSEC students were still unaware of these incidents. Others who did know were concerned; Dr. Lerner says this concern is warranted, there is no reason to be overly concerned. “We have a long stretch of safety,” he says. Dr. Lerner advises to walk to and from the train with friends, think about the route chosen, and not to show valuables. Overall, it is about common sense. He says, “BHSEC students are New Yorkers. They just need to be street smart.”