Big (Security) Man on Campus

I remember I didn’t have to worry about my safety when I studied late in the library, or walked back to my dorm even after midnight. However, we’ve heard a lot in the news recently about campus robberies, especially for the gadgets in the hands of students. With these increasing attacks and robberies on campus, Chicago universities are taking a more hands on approach to campus security.

Universities such as Loyola have 500 surveillance cameras monitoring safety at Lake Shore and Water Tower campuses, and 24 and 16 campus safety officers patrolling Lake Shore and Water Tower campuses respectively. The University of Chicago has a three tiered system set up to notify students with security alerts, compile crime trends and an emergency contact system for urgent matters. Northwestern employs multiple late night police officers on foot patrol, community security patrols, as well as perimeter patrol, extensive security lighting, and a SafeRide program, a safety transportation system.

28 Jul 1978, Tallahassee, Florida, USA — Chi Omega murder suspect Theodore Bundy walks forward and waves to TV camera as his indictment for the January murders of FSU coeds Lisa Levy and Margaret Bowman is read at the Leon County Jail. — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

Notoriously, we think of the famous serial killer, Ted Bundy, who among many others, stalked and attacked the woman of a sorority house on the campus of the Florida State University in the 70s.

Today, campus security is still a prevalent concern. Faculty, staff and students are more aware of their surroundings, and have better measures in place to help prevent crime. “In some people’s minds, these responses to an active shooter scenario or other high-profile event might define the role of campus security, but the reality suggests a much bigger picture. Campus security neither begins nor ends with an active shooter scenario, but operates continuously to ensure the safety of students, faculty and staff throughout a campus.

Northwestern even outlines great points for security on campus:

• When walking or using public transportation keep alert and aware of your surroundings.

• Try to walk on well-lit and well-traveled streets when going to your destination. Avoid shortcuts and alleys.

• Do not walk with headphones on, as you may not hear subjects approaching you.

• Try to keep smartphones and other valuables out of sight.

• If you see something that makes you uncomfortable, trust your instincts and cross the street, change directions or go to a public place.

• Even if the person does not approach you, if you believe they are suspicious, report it to the police. You may prevent someone else from being robbed.

• If a robber confronts you, cooperate and give up any items demanded. Attempt to inconspicuously look at the robber to provide police with a good description including sex, race, height, weight, build, complexion, hair color/style, and clothing – including hats and jackets. Compare the robber to your own height and weight to estimate the size of your attacker. If a weapon is displayed, describe the weapon as well. We understand that the shock of the situation may not allow you to remember everything, but do your best to try to remember these details.

• At the first opportunity, call 911 or utilize a campus “Blue Light” emergency phone, which connects directly to University Police.

• Don’t hesitate or be afraid to call the police. If you have to ask yourself if you should call the police…, you should call the police. If you think you might be at risk, the police are the ones who can get to you the fastest and help you. Your safety is their first priority.

• Cooperate with the police — if you are robbed, or see someone else being robbed, report it to the police immediately. Remember you may be helping to prevent the robbery of a fellow student, and help the police apprehend suspects or recover property.

I miss my college life, which was some of the best years in my life. However, with the vulnerability like it is now, would I feel the same peace of mind and worry free study environment back then?