Following the release of the 48-page comprehensive 2019 Security and Fire Safety Report, the Public Safety department at CWRU should be commended for its actions to document safety procedures on campus. After two recent fires in Kent Hale Smith and Millis Schmitt, Public Safety combined their Fire Safety section and annual security report. However, as incidents such as petty theft are reported across campus, we should ask what the attitude toward public safety is on campus, and what official departments should do to help promote a safe university environment.
With the addition of the fire safety section, the 2019 Security Report covers more information than previous reports, including the number of fires and their causes in all campus buildings in 2018. While there were only three fires last year, the information is useful to students who want to learn about what safety precautions they should be taking across campus, especially as there could be cause for concern after the two recent fires, which resulted in the closing of both buildings involved for a period of time.
However, outside of fire safety, students may be more concerned about crime, which the Public Safety department has attempted to address in the past with the expansion of Safe Ride hours. However, safety seemed to take a step backwards recently this year with confusion over who would be allowed into Safe Rides.
Beyond student transportation, it should be Public Safety’s responsibility to make sure that students also feel safe on campus, and that they have the space to use the resources they need. This includes the publication of medical amnesty and other programs that encourage students to seek help instead of worrying about consequences, and to create an environment where students living in university-owned dorms feel safe where they live. However, Public Safety may be failing in this regard.
Recently, following an attempted mugging on Murray Hill, the Carlton Road community Residential Hall Association sent out a survey to evaluate students’ feelings on how safe they felt while in their dorms and in the area, and called for ideas to help the area feel more secure. Although it is positive that the community was able to come together to find ways to feel more safe, the responsibility to ensure that students feel protected should fall to the department on campus that was designed for this purpose.
Similarly, reporting crimes on campus often feels futile. A student who asked to remain anonymous had money stolen from their dorm, and was offered a bike lock in return. Although there is little to be done in those situations, it is important to create an environment in which students feel like they are being heard, rather than feeling helpless.
Ultimately, CWRU Public Safety should not be criticized too harshly for their performance on campus; as a whole, they still publish regular monthly crime logs with reported crimes from the month, which has been maintained for the past several years. The attempts to expand the Safe Ride program and the security notification system should also be commended. However, Public Safety should make sure that the students they are meant to protect. feel as safe as Public Safety claims they do, instead of student organizations taking action to reach out to students before an official department on campus has the chance to.