President Pastides' statement on student safety

The Carolina community has been dealt a great blow as a vibrant life has been critically impacted by senseless violence in Five Points. And it must not happen again.

For decades, USC’s students have been the economic and social lifeblood of Five Points. It’s where they go to find entertainment, meet friends, dine out, socialize, shop, bank and more. However, it is evident that Five Points after midnight is not currently a safe enough place for our students or for anyone. Today we call on our friends, including the City of Columbia, Richland County, South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, Five Points businesses and local neighborhood associations to stand up to better protect USC students and everyone in Five Points.  

It's time to take greater action:  

1. Commit the resources necessary to increase policing by the Columbia Police Department and Richland County Sheriff’s Department in Five Points Thursday through Saturday nights. There should be an increased deployment of sworn officers who will focus on the prevention of criminal activity.

2. Establishments should close at 2 a.m. Also, they should adhere to existing SLED regulations on alcohol sales. There must be greater monitoring and enforcement of existing alcohol regulations that prohibit unlawful cheap liquor and drink specials.

3. Making Five Points a pedestrian district on Friday and Saturday nights will decrease crowding on sidewalks and enhance safety. Let's have an honest public discussion about a parking and transportation plan to support this action.

4. Install new lighting, call boxes and other security infrastructure in Five Points and the surrounding areas wherever needed.

5. The university will promote additional activities that provide students with weekend night alternatives to Five Points.

Everybody has a stake in these actions. Together we can take back Five Points after dark.  Let's take responsibility for making nightlife fun and safe.  We know that it's a great entertainment and shopping district during the day and it can be at night.

At USC we're doing our part, investing nearly $2 million in safety and security. We've added new officers, bringing our total to 70; we've added lighting, hundreds of security cameras and new transportation alternatives. We're enhancing education and training efforts and spreading the message of “Stand Up Carolina,” take care of yourself and each other. USC is investing in making our community safer. We ask our neighbors to do the same.

This senseless crime that now impacts the life of our student, her family, her many friends and our entire community must serve as a turning point. We cannot let this happen again. This student has been described as “determined, a very hard worker and a fighter.” In tribute to her tenacity, let us also be determined. Let us work hard to ensure that Five Points and our entire city is safe and ours to enjoy.