A Georgia Tech parent wants safer campus. 'I can’t continue to risk my son’s personal safety just to save a few bucks on in-state tuition.'

Clark Blackwell, the father of a Georgia Tech student wrote this essay in the wake of the armed robbery of a Tech student in a school building Monday at 7 p.m.

When I talked to Blackwell today, we discussed how the crime problem in and around Tech worries parents. I know Tech has taken steps, but this latest incident calls for strong and visible response to reassure parents their kids are safe.

By Clark Blackwell

My son is in his third year at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Until today, I've been willing to turn a blind eye to, and even to place blame on, the students who were victimized off campus while returning from late-night carousing or who had stupidly ventured into areas off campus in Atlanta that are commonly known to be dangerous.


The most recent armed robbery occurred Monday inside an academic building that has, in recent years, served as the host location for regional Model UN events attended by Georgia high school students.

The quality of the security camera photo of the most recent assailant is laughably poor. Clearly, under your watch, it’s not safe to assume that a world-class engineering school demands state-of-the-art security cameras.

Three years ago, my son’s diligence, hard work, attention to detail, and strong academic credentials resulted in acceptance letters from several out-of-state engineering schools. Each university offered a generous academic scholarship that would’ve covered much of the out-of-state tuition.

In light of the HOPE Scholarship, we ultimately based our enrollment decision on the perceived return on investment of a Tech diploma. The spike in on-campus crime is a jarring reminder that ROI can neither quantify nor offset the ever-increasing risk that, on your watch, my son may fall victim to violent crime before graduation.

The volume of on-campus crime in the past eight months leads me to conclude that you are unwilling to ensure the safety of the young adults seeking a Georgia Tech education. The accurate word is “unwilling” rather than “unable” because the goal is achievable and Tech’s operating budget is substantial.

You can afford it. “See something, say something” looks good on paper, and it may actually work on Sesame Street, but that happy-talk policy is clearly eliciting nothing more than a jeer and a middle finger from freeloading career criminals actively targeting Institute students and faculty on real-life, increasingly dangerous streets such as 4th, 5th, 8th, 10th, 14th, Techwood, Bobby Dodd, Cherry, Ferst, Atlantic, State, Hemphill, Spring, and West Peachtree.

If I do not witness immediate and robust upgrades to campus security this month, including but not limited to the increased, constant, and campus-wide physical presence of uniformed law enforcement officers and the installation of security cameras capable of providing reasonably clear photos, I can’t continue to risk my son’s personal safety just to save a few bucks on in-state tuition.

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About the Author

Maureen Downey
Maureen Downey
Maureen Downey has written editorials and opinion pieces about local, state and federal education policy since the 1990s.