The majority of driving accidents happen within five miles of the home. Many of us might remember this strange statistic printed seemingly for no purpose other than to spite those studying for the driver’s license test, but there is a lesson to be derived from this statistic. In the final days of the semester, we must keep in mind that while we are almost home, we still have a week or two left living in one of the most dangerous cities in the United States. The stone walls around this campus might serve to keep some measure of wind-chill out, but they can do little to stop other problems afflicting the District. Thus, lowering one’s guard would be unscrupulous, as the dangers plaguing the District and the Georgetown neighborhood are as real and threatening as ever. Among the list of the usual suspects are crime, gun violence and HIV infection. A recent report concerning District-wide HIV infection rates showed that D.C. has a rate twice that of the national average. The HIV epidemic is not just an abstract affliction of the third world, nor does it target any specific group of people. The virus simply does what is encoded in its DNA. Though it is possible to limit the chances of one’s exposure to the virus, it is impossible to proof oneself against it. Errors happen – whether in judgment or in medical practice – and exposure to the virus is possible even without engaging in high-risk behaviors. It is impossible to tell who carries the virus, and many HIV patients who have been exposed to the virus might never suspect they are infected for years to come. Living in a city with a higher rate of HIV infection than most of the country puts Hoyas at a higher risk of infection, simply due to laws of chance. This is why the HIV problem is not just an abstract, but a real risk that must be kept in mind. Getting tested, using preventative methods and simply being aware of the problem will go a long way to help contain the affliction. In cases of life-and-death considerations, the cliche “better safe than sorry” should not be taken jadedly. Along with disease, crimes and violence occur both in and outside Healy Gates. This semester has already seen one campus attack involving a handgun. Being aware of the threat of crime can vastly reduce the possibility of being a victim of such a crime; actions such as locking doors, avoiding walking alone after dark, and simply being aware of one’s surroundings might spell the difference between a pleasant night and a nasty encounter with the Hobbesian aspects of the human nature. As far as awareness goes, however, there are political trends afoot that could exacerbate crime in the city around us. The gun ban discussion has been fervent within the last year, and the Supreme Court hearing scheduled for March 2008 (Shelly Parker, et al. v. District of Columbia and Adrian M. Fenty) will decide a key constitutional interpretation that will affect not only the District, but the nature of gun laws across the country. But besides deciding the nature of the second amendment, the decision will also affect the ability of individuals to perpetrate violent crime in the Georgetown neighborhood. If guns are made more easily accessible to all, the likelihood of their use against residents of D.C. can only rise. The more guns are around, the greater the likelihood of a gun being used against anyone, including a student. Students should keep up with the developments of the case, so as to take appropriate levels of precaution. Despite the many potential plagues that may vex any resident of D.C., and those that vex Georgetown students in particular, it is not the objective of this editorial to inspire paranoia. Instead, it is to promote well-informed decision making. Being a well-informed citizen involves being aware of the risks to which one is exposed and minimizing those risks. The editorial board sincerely hopes that the Georgetown population will strive to be well-informed about such risks, and can live more confidently, knowing that everything that could be done to avoid disaster has been done.

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