Drew Shriner | Echo
Taylor University claims to be the land of intentional community. Upon entering this community, students and faculty commit to loving and serving others, and we often do it well.
However, I see one mar on this campus' record of community: a too-high bike-related crime rate.
It is common for a Taylor student to walk out of a dorm or academic building, running a few minutes late to a class, and swindle a nearby unlocked bike.
Often, bikes are returned within an hour, but sometimes they are not returned for weeks or are never returned to their proper owners.
In a survey sent out in the Taylor student announcements, 59 of the 108 respondents that have a bike on campus reported that their bike has been stolen and that it took over one week to be returned or that it was never returned.
More than just borrowed, bikes are sometimes vandalized.
Sophomore Ben Kruger's bike was vandalized earlier this year resulting in burns to the seat and gear shift,
scratched paint and removed stickers.
This is not a new problem, according to Chief of Police Jeff Wallace.
"That's been going on since I was a student here in the mid-80s, so we are definitely aware of it," Wallace said.
It is surprising that theft is such a major problem on Taylor's campus since, "You shall not steal," is in the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:15).
However, the results of the survey show that there is disagreement among students on campus about the moral implications of taking someone's bike without their permission.
While 105 students answered "Never" to the question "When is it okay to use someone else's bike without their permission?", eight students answered "Always," and 51 students offered a certain set of circumstances when it is okay.
For those who do have bikes on campus and do not want them to be stolen, Wallace suggested two means of prevention: a bike lock and placing a unique marking on your bike. The bike lock serves as a deterrent to potential swindlers, and the marking aids in the recovery of one's bike should it be stolen.
However, the fact that a bike is unlocked does not justify stealing it. The fact that unlocked bikes are taken reveals a lack of respect for the property of others on our campus.
This lack of respect shows a flaw in our community, according to Kruger.
"Intentional community requires respect," Kruger said. "Don't steal."
It is also worth noting that it is respectful for bike owners to lock up their own bikes. Wallace noted that some members of our community may struggle with the temptation of theft.
"Sometimes petty theft is a struggle in someone's life, and you can actually be doing them a favor and doing a service to helping them become a more vibrant part of their community by taking that temptation away," Wallace said.
Both sides of this issue need to work to respect and love one another.
Thankfully, a vast majority of the bikes that get reported as stolen are recovered within a short time, as long as they are reported shortly after they are taken.
"We do have a lot of students who come in and report them, and thus far this year we've recovered 100 percent of the bikes that have been reported as taken," Wallace said.
Though it is good that these wrongs are able to be righted, it would ultimately be best for our community if individuals had enough respect for one another to simply leave one another's bikes alone without permission from the owner.