Fear and concern flared up around campus and on social media after a message warning of criminal activity circulated among students.
On Sept. 28, the president, secretary and other board members of the Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity emailed the following message out to members warning students about recent criminal activity around campus.
“Please be aware and walk with others tonight in both North & South Oakland. There have been multiple muggings and beatings occurring lately. Tonight is another night for gang initiation. Girls do not wear your hair in a braid or pony tail. Do not pretend to be on your phone, be alert.
Please be safe!
SafeRider: 412-648-CALL (2255) http://www.pc.pitt.edu/transportation/saferider.php”
The message has no affiliation with the University or SafeRider. Hannah Robinson, APO president, said the group did not intend to imply that the message was from the University or SafeRider.
“It was late at night, and we have a lot of brothers who study late and live further away from campus,” Robinson, a senior communications and history and philosophy of science major, said in an email Monday. “We included SafeRider’s number because we wanted it to be easily accessible — our priority was the safety of our brothers.”
Robinson said she and the other APO members had heard “general rumblings” about crime happening around campus. Pitt police’s crime alert website confirmed the crime rumors. The website shows that robberies occurred on Sept. 22 and 27 on the 3800 block of Forbes Avenue and on Dawson Street near Semple Street.
Pitt police also responded to assaults on Sept. 15 and 24 on Niagara and Atwood streets. More crime alerts are available on the Pitt police website.
“There are rumors circulating regarding robberies occurring as a result of a gang initiation. So far, these are unsubstantiated,” the post says.
Several students forwarded the APO message around to various mailing lists, including Pitt’s Musical Theatre Club, and many students posted on social media with concerns about gang-related crime. Pitt spokesman John Fedele referred students to this year’s Pitt police campus safety video posted on Sept. 25.
Sarah Gahr, Pitt’s Musical Theatre Club president, said she’d heard about crimes from friends and felt compelled to forward the message from APO when she received it.
“We have a very young club membership and just passed along the info,” Gahr, a senior history of arts and architecture major, said. “This message was forwarded to us all and asked to send to our mailing lists.”
Students can call Pitt police at (412) 624-2121 in an emergency, (412) 624-4040 in a non-emergency situation or email firstname.lastname@example.org.