Armed robbery reaffirms needs for campus fence

Coming up with ideas for columns isn’t as easy as you might think.

This week was no different. I sat at my desk on Thursday night, hoping that I would be struck by an idea but, alas, nothing.

I drove to Ann Arbor Saturday morning for the Michigan-Michigan State basketball game thinking, surely, I would have an ah-ha moment. But again, nothing.

Then as I was pulling in a driveway to park, my roommate Tim called. He asked if I had seen the safety notice that UDM had sent out.

I thought that it was odd he called to ask me that because – let’s face it – we get our fair share of those safety alert emails at UDM.

But then he said something had happened at The House, our fraternity house, Phi Kappa Theta, which sits on Fairfield Street across from Calihan Hall.

My heart sank.

I asked what had happened and he said it sounded like an armed robbery and that I should check my email.

I did, saw an unread email on my phone and, sure enough, he was right.

It read, “The suspects again knocked, and as the door was opened and, the suspects forced their way into the residence armed with a handgun and long gun. The occupants of the residence were ordered to lie on the ground, and they complied. The suspects then proceeded to take keys, cell phones and wallets from the victims.”

I tossed my phone onto my passenger seat and just sat in my seat, not sure what to do with a rush of thoughts running through my head.

How could this happen? Were all the brothers okay?

When something of this nature occurs at The House, it hits a lot closer to home, literally.

I was rattled when I got the news. I couldn’t even imagine how the brothers felt who were robbed.

Older Phi Kap alums have told me stories about brothers being robbed at gun or knife point in front of the house – stories of when the house was violently broken into. Break-ins and robberies aren’t new. I know the other houses down the street have had similar issues.

This incident was different, though.

Even with all the crime issues in this part of Detroit, you never expect to get the news that your brothers, people that you love and care about, had guns pointed at their heads and were told to lay on the ground like dogs.

Actually, an armed home invasion like this shouldn’t happen to anybody in Detroit, or anywhere for that matter, but when it involves people you know, it’s even worse.

I was relieved when I found out that everyone was safe. That’s all that matters, after all.

Keys, phones and wallets can be replaced. Human lives, and brothers, however, cannot.

What happened also got me thinking about the area where we go to school.

I’ve often thought that UDM should get rid of the fence that surrounds our campus.

No longer do I feel this way.

Yes, our beloved house is not on campus. But by being literally across the street, it’s about as close as you can get.

If our brothers can’t be safe in our own house, I’m not sure, quite frankly, if campus would be safe from this kind of crime either if the fence were gone.

Our fraternity has dealt with adversity and overcome it in the past.

We’ve been on probation, suspended and been told we can’t wear letters.

Yet, we’re still here and thriving.

We Phi Kaps are a gritty group. We’ll learn from what happened, make the house safer and move on.

Will this happen again? I hope not.

Unfortunately, especially in Detroit, you never know what’s going to happen.


Walsworth is VN editor-in-chief