Case Western Reserve University’s Police and Security Services Department was established in 2006. Since then, their presence has been felt on campus among students during the day, in the evening and at various social events like Spot Night. Freshman are asked to program (216) 368-3333—Case Police’s phone number—into their cell phones during orientation, and the CWRU Police Department has reached out to students with the inception of CWRU Shield in 2014. Without a doubt, the creation of these departments and the programs they’ve helped to put in place have helped CWRU students feel safer.
CWRU PD and Security are clearly putting forth great efforts to ensure the safety of the campus community, but more impactful changes from these departments and others are still needed to make the campus a secure environment for students, community members and their property. From our perspective, some of the implementations of added security around campus seem more like public relations moves rather than practical applications which strengthen our defenses against crime.
It’s sometimes easy to forget that our campus is an urban setting. For the most part, CWRU seems to be insulated from the problems associated with living and working in a densely populated area. But there are incidents of intersection between the two conflicting spheres of academia and city life which demand the attention of the CWRU community. For example, we’ve already discussed the disparity between the events which justify a security alert and which are left to the rumor mill. It is also of great concern that many of blue-light security stations are out of order and need to be repaired.
Before the hold-up in Wade Commons this summer, its doors were left unlocked during hours of daylight. Since that day, the doors are locked 24/7 to protect students from unauthorized persons. But what does this accomplish? These first two weeks of classes saw high levels of tailgating and students seemed to be more annoyed at the inconvenience than assured of their safety. We can understand the need to lock the building earlier in the evening, but it should remain open during peak hours.
Safe Ride is another example of the well-intentioned but problematic safety tools offered to students. The system for reserving a ride is great in theory, but leaves much to be desired in the way of implementation. If a student has spotty cell service or doesn’t have a smartphone, they may miss their ride or think it was placed when it wasn’t. Furthermore, there is a higher demand for cars during late evening hours causing long waits for students looking to get back to their homes late at night. If a student is forced to wait more than half an hour, he or she could easily decide that walking would be a more convenient option–a dangerous habit that instantly negates the impact of this important service.
CWRU PD and Security do a great job providing a sense of overall safety and well-being. The individual officers are pleasant and professional, and the departments seem to be heading in the right direction. However, more resources, like funds to add Safe Ride cars and fix emergency services like the blue-light stations, need to be devoted to campus security. Without making real changes to the services which impact the safety of students the most, we will continue to be at risk for the type of publicity that no university wants to see.