Safety in and around the campus - need advice/tips/recommendations

Our kid is an incoming 1st year student - coming from a small town in a rural state. He is friendly and hardworking but never used to hustle and bustle of an urban life. With recent spate of violence in Chicago…we are starting to get worried (this is adding to an already chaotic transition because of covid).

I am sure UChicago has safety measures but looking for any specific measures that student can take. So far he got generic advice (like “use common sense” and avoid sketchy areas) - which is useful but looking for more specific tips/advice until the student gets familiar with the campus: any places to avoid; best place to buy groceries/medicines around the campus; safe transportation choices (biking vs walking vs uber) - things like that.

PS: this is solely to get safety advice for an incoming 1st year student - TIA

I will let current students answer the specifics about where to go for shopping (remember Amazon delivers many things!) and street boundaries, as adults who are are familiar with the campus and surrounding community may see things differently.

We know a rising junior female who doesn’t walk anywhere alone after dark, even from the library to her housing. YMMV, but she is a well traveled sophisticated person.

You can find the UChicago daily police reports here:

@hs2020dad, depending on location of your son’s res. hall, he can access the pharmacies at Jewel-Oscao (61st and Cottage Grove) CVS on 53rd, Target on 53rd if they have a pharmacy (can’t remember) or the Walgreens on HP Blvd. If you are registered at any of these national pharmacies, it’ll make things easier for prescription meds (although he’ll probably need a local script - call them and check). There is also a pharmacy on campus in the medical complex, I’m pretty sure.

Groceries at the JO, Target, Hyde Park Produce, Whole Foods, or Trader Joe’s all in Hyde Park or just inside Woodlawn but very close to dorms and UCPD. Of course, he’ll also be on an unlimited meal plan as a first year. Dining typically happens with the house tables but they’ve tweaked it to more of a grab-n-go this fall due to Covid. He might want to rent that microfridge.

You might just open up a map of Hyde Park on Google Maps or Maps app and just look at the options for retail. All the stores in Hyde Park are obviously going to be perfectly safe and usually the area is just bustling with students during the academic year. My kids love the JO on Cottage.

Online delivery is exactly what you’d expect for a college campus in the city! Not sure anything’s changed there from Covid. My kids use DoorDash and probably Uber Eats and InstaCart/Amazon for grocery delivery as well. They do a LOT of delivery and my son last year did as well even though he lived in the dorms.

If your son is over at BJ or RGG (South), there will be a small marketplace for essentials in the lower level of either Cathey Dining or South (can’t recall where exactly). Not sure if it’ll be open this fall or not. I think they take Maroon Bucks. WRC might have a marketplace option as well - not sure. It’s a new dorm and I’m not sure what all is over there or open given Covid.

U-Go (the university shuttle) and the 171/172 will be the transportation options of choice around campus if not walking or biking. Most do a lot of walking. They will cover that during Orientation. Biking can be problematic unless he’s really comfortable in an urban environment - and are targets for theft so I’d advise not to bring it to campus just yet. Uber is pretty inexpensive in the area but not sure about currently. My kids ride public transit all the time. My daughter routinely took the green line or red line to her job downtown the past two years and my oldest would commute to her job using the #2 express. Public transit is safe, especially in that area. While there may be certain L stops I wouldn’t recommend for a new student, none of those are in Hyde Park. There is also the Metra train line to the Loop.

He’ll lean a lot more once Orientation begins in early Sept. (it’s timed differently this year from the usual O-Week, for those not aware of that).

Congrats to him and welcome!

@hs2020dad Welcome to the University and the Hyde Park/Kenwood/North Woodlawn neighborhood. I am in Hyde Park right now and I am quite familiar with this area.

There are two links that you and your first year should start with:

The first one will tell you where the major academic buildings are. The second one will tell you how to get around.

Generally speaking, the University of Chicago like many of her urban peers is located within a very secure bubble. Roughly speaking, you are safe in the general area from 47th Street to 63rd Street and from the lakefront all the way to Cottage Grove Avenue. Within the actual campus of the University, you are exceedingly safe. I have no problem of walking alone at 3 am inside the Main Quad. And this being U of C, you may find students walk to and from Reg (Regenstein Library) literally at any time of the day.

All the horror stories you hear about Chicago street violence are unfortunately true. But they all happen OUTSIDE the Hyde Park/Kenwood/North Woodlawn community. Depending on your political inclination, you may find reassurance in the fact that U of Chicago Police Department (UCPD) is the second largest police force in the entire State of Illinois. The double presence of UCPD and CPD provides the much needed security that is essential for the survival of the University amidst the urban slums surrounding it.

I had lived in Hyde Park many years ago when crime was much worse. Now I feel safe walking around in areas that I wouldn’t dream of doing so thirty years ago. Indeed one fairly common compliant from the nearby communities is the gradual expansion of the University and the gentrification of neighborhoods as well as the displacement of long time local residents. Nowadays many students routinely walk across Midway Plaisance in the wee hours of the morning without any fear. Along 59th Street and many busy spots inside the University there are security guards standing there 24/7 365 days per year (except during Polar Vortex a few years ago when the windchill dropped to minus 45 degree).

Under the Getting Around tab you will the University Shuttle link. The primary buses for students are UGo Shuttles. UGo Shuttles have Day route and Night Route. Depends on which dorm you kid ends up in, you may want to study the Shuttle Map so that he knows where he can get on the bus and where he can get off.

My guess will be for most 1st Year they will not be doing much cooking. I like Hyde Park Produce for their fresh veggies. But it is out of the way at 53rd for most students living in dorm. Jewel Osco (of the national supermarket company Albertson) is the largest grocery chain in Chicagoland. The store at 61st and Cottage Grove was opened 18 months ago and provides a much needed full fledged supermarket in the community. It is very safe to shop there (and the tough looking and armed security guard standing by the entrance probably helps :wink: ).

Because of COVID, the usual orientation excursions to downtown or beyond are likely curtailed. U of Chicago campus is relatively small. Most students would walk between campus buildings during normal school hours. And with a significant portion of classes being online, honestly I think in the first couple of months your kid will likely just stay in Hyde Park. And that will give him plenty of time to adjust to city life.

Situational awareness is the key. Make sure your student isn’t on their phone while they walk. They certainly shouldn’t be listening to music. Have your son keep his head up and make eye contact.

Awesome info. thank you @Mwfan1921 @JBStillFlying @85bears46 and @GKUnion

He is a first year student with no plans to do any cooking (unlimited meal plan) - grocery info is for any just-in-case scenario. Talked to CVS on 53rd street and they are fine to accept the prescription transfer.

Looking forward to the orientation sessions. We are planning to drive there (from a non-hotspot state) to drop him off and may stay for couple days to do see around the city/campus. Thanks again.