The campus isn’t the safety problem
Updated: Apr 26
We are only a month into our semester and school safety is already back in the public consciousness. In November, four students were found murdered after a stabbing at their off-campus residence in Moscow, Idaho. The incident had ripple effects as the country watched, bringing university students to question: Is this campus genuinely safe? It’s clear that the campus is not the issue here, but rather the people within it.
Since the first time I drove down Woodland Road as a prospective student, one of the standout features of the campus has been the consistent campus police presence. In ten minutes of driving, we saw campus police patrolling on three separate occasions. Albeit the increased presence may have been brought on by the car with New York plates canvassing the area. This level of safety and campus police attention hasn’t felt drastically different over the last three years. Campus police’s presence in the community, along with the safety record of the surrounding area allows me to walk comfortably at any hour.
From my point of view, the greatest safety worry for universities at this point is the campus, but the people allowed into the community. Regardless of the campus size, we see primarily fellow students in our day-to-day activities, along with many of the same faculty and staff. If the school does not properly vet those who enter its community, then the school could see some serious trouble. That responsibility falls upon admissions counselors, deans, and hiring committees. The importance of such controls is especially true considering the relaxed controls in many of the campus buildings. Multiple buildings, including my own, have resident assistants who are not within earshot of the front door, helping unwanted entrances become a real possibility. Compounding on this, community members have also slacked on guest registration, another variable that campus police cannot account for.
I understand my viewpoint differs from many on this campus as a man, and for understandable reason. The campus safety infrastructure has been failing for many years. The campus, Woodland Road, in particular, has been in need of more street lights for a long time, especially with the non-traditional blue light system going by the wayside. These are areas the campus should improve, however, they don’t make the campus intrinsically unsafe.
If the school wishes to make a push for campus safety, it has to come first through vetting and understanding the people on campus. Infrastructure upgrades would help people feel more comfortable in their surroundings, but the administration’s top priority should be those potentially dangerous and possibly unaccounted for people inside the community. As long as those pieces remain in place, other improvements can come in due time with the campus continuing to be a safe and comfortable place.