Duke varsity to send e-mail security alerts to students

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Durham, North Carolina, Jan 23 (UNI) Duke University has decided to send e-mail security alerts to its students apart from stepping up patrol in and around the campus in the wake of the murder of an Indian student of the prestigious institution.

University official reviewed both on and off-campus safety measures, discussed how to respond to recent events and how to help prevent future crimes.

''It our effort to give people information, so they can help make decisions and judgments as they go about their daily lives to be aware that this has happened,'' Associate vice president for campus safety and security Aaron Graves said.

Two Indian Embassy officials met University President Richard Brodhead on Monday and urged him to step up security on the campus in the aftermath of the murder of PhD student Abhijit Mahato.

The crime occurred amid a spate of armed robberies around the Duke perimeter and throughout the city this month, but it was unclear whether the incidents were related.

Giving details of the meeting, vice president for student affairs Larry Moneta said, ''It was really both to accept the University's formal condolences....President Brodhead was very eloquent and heartfelt. They came because they're working very closely with the family's representative (to arrange transportation of the body)....

Second is they're here to really ensure diligence in the investigation and ensure that the Duke Indian community is cared for.'' Mr Moneta said he spoke with Mahato's father in India on Saturday night.

Mr Graves said Duke and Durham police will step up patrols near campus. He added that the University was reviewing safety measures in light of the recent onslaught in the campus area, according to media reports here.

''Our ultimate goal, though, is to maintain high visibility in those areas (that students frequent) off campus, to deter any future accidents and alleviate the fear from this recent crime wave,'' Mr Graves said.

Mr Moneta said that the University was reaching out to Mahato's friends and family, both at home in India and in Durham even as formalities were being worked out between the Indian Embassy officials and the University authorities, to send the body back to India.

Police was yet to name a suspect or establish a motive in the death of the Indian PhD student of Duke University. Mahato, 29, was found shot dead on Friday inside his home at the Anderson Apartments.

An engineering graduate from Jadavpur University and post-graduate of IIT in Kanpur, Mahato worked for two years for the GE Global Research Center in Bangalore, before coming to Duke to do his PhD.

He had focused on finite element analysis, a computer-simulation technique used in engineering.

A little over a month ago, two Indian graduate students from LSU, were found shot dead in their apartments in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

The police have still not made any arrests in the case.

Some Duke University students were more cautious than usual in the aftermath of the murder of a PhD candidate and robbery of two other people affiliated with the university.

''It's scary,'' a Duke student Sarah Marshall said. ''I hope that they make it safer and put cops out there and do whatever it takes, because I just don't want anything to happen to any other students.'' So far, five Duke students and employees have been victims of various crimes in the past six weeks.

According to Durham police, since January there have been 30 robberies targeting Hispanics, including 11 over the weekend, in the area surrounding Duke. Although police have not said whether those crimes could be related, university officials say that what happens in the city affects the university.


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