Campus Safety: Act Now, Not Later

By: Jeff Hochhauser | Feb 25, 2014 | 952 Views Opinion |

When I arrived at UNC, I had never heard the name Eve Carson. Shortly after arriving, I quickly learned who she was and her story. Eve Carson was the Student Body President of UNC in the 2007-2008 school year. Less than one month before her term ended, she was murdered. After this tragedy, the school was forced to reflect on campus safety and scarred with an eternal, haunting what-if: what if safety had been a bigger concern before this horrible crime occurred?

Though such events are unpredictable, different precautionary measures can be put in place to prevent them from taking place. In terms of campus safety, we need to take a proactive approach and consider flaws we have in our safety program before anything like this can happen. CMC already sees various crimes on campus, such as burglary and sexual assault, and we need to make changes as soon as we can to stop current trends and prevent unthinkable tragedies.

It is easy to look at problems after they allow for serious consequences. It is harder to identify issues that may not seem as pressing, but focusing on these is just as important.  Safety at CMC is one of these issues that we, as a community, are currently overlooking.

CMC needs to re-evaluate its safety procedures. There needs to be more lighting on campus. There need to be more blue lights. There needs to be an escort service for off-campus students returning to their homes. There are currently 5 emergency phones located on campus—one in South lot, one in Biszantz tennis center parking lot, one in the Bauer parking lot, one between Ducey and the Senior Apartments, and one next to the portables. According to the campus safety website, there are 300 emergency phones located in the consortium and according to a map of CMC we have 5 of them. This isn’t even specifically referring to blue lights but every emergency phone.

Emergency phones dial a preset number when a button is pushed. If it is a blue light phone, it also flashes a blue strobe and sounds a noise to attract attention to the victim. The 5 phones on campus are not even all blue lights, which means they simply place the call to a preset number. Even if the blue light is more expensive, it a cost we can incur to create a safe environment for everyone.  Despite this, consider the lacking of other basic safety features. When you walk the campus at night, do you notice a lack of lighting at any location? Did you know that students living in College Park cannot be taken back by golf cart because the CMC carts cannot take them?

I want to draw attention to this lack of basic safety installations because I think it is a huge issue that goes overlooked by many. Many schools make the mistake of not taking the proper steps to create the safest environment possible, and come to regret it when a tragedy strikes. UNC is forced to live with this tragedy as a part of its history. People will always wonder what they could have done better, and this is exactly what we need to prevent here. Why wait for something to happen?

Starting tomorrow, ASCMC and DOS could begin working to add features to campus that make it significantly safer. Whether we provide more blue lights, or endorse a safety app that serves a similar purpose, action needs to happen.

Should DOS fail to provide funding for adding lighting, blue lights, and an escort service, ASCMC should begin allocating funds to deal with this. With the $18,000 dollar revenues coming from the fee increase, ASCMC should be prepared to spend this all on safety. At this point, increasing safety on campus is an issue that needs to be dealt with immediately. Spending the money to make campus safer should take priority to spending on events. Safety effects every student on this campus and ASCMC is supposed to act in the interest of all of the students.

ASCMC spending on safety would send a message to administration that student’s feel strongly about this issue. It would show that students want to see a change. Though CMC, like the other 5cs, relies on campus safety, it is clearly not doing enough. It would be unconventional to see a student government spend money on this, but that should not deter ASCMC. As the governing body, ASCMC should be working to improve student life. Investing in creating a safer campus clearly and obviously improves student life.

As students, we need to be proactive in issues—and this is a great place to start. We should not wait to make our campus a safer environment, we should start to act now to prevent tragedy and protect the students that attend.

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  • Color me skeptical

    Are emergency phones really increasing safety in an age where everyone carries a cell phone? I’m more concerned about how camp sec is by and large useless when it comes to increasing the safety of parties and events. Both RAs and DOS know that camp sec does little to increase student safety, and mostly jut stands around while RAs and student event planners handle problems. Hopefully the fact that the director of camp sec just resigned will bring some much needed change.

  • CMC Alumnus ’11

    You know, the more the school administration denies the students a place to gather in one supervised area and party, the more dangerous it is to student safety.

    But really. The more the crackdown has occurred, the more townies have slipped in, and more assaults and the like have occurred on campus. Back when I arrived in ’07, there was much security, but 6:01 was amazing. Stories of the keg drop, as well as the amazing other parties thrown by the school were fantastic.

    But the one thing I remember was the effectiveness of the RAs. They were constantly patrolling and doing their best to look after and help out students.

    One of my friends wasn’t doing so well on 601, and our group went to find someone. The RA, then Alex Huang, said, “Don’t worry. Let’s look after her. Always feel free to come to me or any other RA. We will make sure everything is okay.” Once everything was taken care of and ascertained that she would be okay, it was a “We’re here to help. I might poke fun at you later, when we can all have a good laugh about it, but we’re here for your safety.”

    The school needs to realize that what made students safe in the first place was having effective security and gatherings that could be watched over so that RAs and security could watch over mostly everything rather than being spread thin and not worrying about people partying by themselves and in remote locations.

    You want effectiveness? Change things back to how they were before.

    Dean Spellman, I hope you’ve watched “Star Wars”, as you then know what they say “The more you tighten your grip…”

  • Hester Lam

    Yes! Lights on Sixth Street please! Given that the majority of off campus assaults occur on Sixth Steeet (based on the amount of emails we got about them) and the lack of sidewalks due to the construction there, it seems like the least we can do is add lights. And with all the construction going on, you don’t even need to close off any more of the sidewalks to add them in!