Harbor’s gate: protection or power play?

(Ayanna Wilson/Hampton Script Staff)
(Ayanna Wilson/Hampton Script Staff)

Malik Jones | Associate Editor

Ever since the Hampton Harbors Apartments were gated, students have wondered whom exactly the gate is helping and why?  Among the many other things that Hampton University could (and should) allocate money for, that gate was a priority. It’s an interesting puzzle that has yet to be solved and begs the question: “Does Hampton truly have their students’ best interests at heart, or will they do anything to kill two birds with one stone?”

It goes without saying that the “Standard of Excellence” at Hampton University is seen through everything its students do, from their academics to extracurricular activities. However, that same standard cannot be said for some of the campus housing, including the 246 two-bedroom, university-owned Harbor apartments.

The Harbors gate, which is nearly always open and offers no type of security checkpoint for visitors, whether driving or on foot, is more of a hindrance than a lasting solution.

“I think it [the gate] helps regulate the people coming into the complex,” said Romere Hopson, a junior biology major from Grand Rapids, Michigan and a current resident of the Harbors, “but it might also be very inconvenient for the residents trying to leave and come back because of the gate slowing traffic down.”

According to the International Foundation For Protection Officers (IFPO), gated housing communities are “residential areas with restricted access designed to privatize normally public spaces.” The people who design these communities are then able to market them as “safer, friendlier, and more economically stable than traditional urban or even suburban neighborhoods.”

Now, even though the university owns this project, and the majority of its inhabitants are students, the Hampton Harbors is still available to the greater community of Hampton Roads. Simply stated, non-Hampton students can live there.

That being the case, it makes sense that the university would want to do everything in its power to increase the complex’s marketability and provide a secure, family-friendly environment; the result being an awkwardly placed cast-iron façade.

Since its erection, the Harbor gate has made no noticeable impact on the influx of students that ease through it every week. Those bars do not deter students as they wander in the night, desperately hopping from one uneventful party to the next.

Students are still packed from wall to wall in the tiny living rooms and the party hosts are still wondering where all those random people came from. Meanwhile, Hampton University continues to increase its exorbitant revenue stream.

As a college student, you should always feel certain that you are in a safe space where you are free to learn and grow. Don’t the Harbor’s residents deserve that same peace of mind? Gated communities were originally designed as a safeguard against so-called “criminals” who may have preyed upon residents in the area.

With 4,533 property crimes reported last year (728 burglary, 3,577 theft, and 228 vehicle theft; neighborhoodscout.com)  students are advised to take a more active role in their safety and question whether Hampton University could and/or should be doing more to ensure the continued safety of its students.

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