In the modern age in which we live, the threats posed to college campuses is greater than ever. Even if you feel that Shippensburg University is safer being a smaller school, recent incidents have shown that students here are at just as much risk as everyone else. So do students really feel safe here?
Students justifiably feel unsafe on campus. The university is moving in a positive direction with communication, but there still are issues of safety on campus.
Lighting is inadequate in certain areas, and the university should be working to fix its own property as well as working with the foundation, borough and township to improve lighting in the area, especially between the campus and off-campus housing.
Student Government Association Vice President of External Affairs Lillian Sellers has mentioned the fact that SUPD’s emergency plans do not adequately consider accessibility. Students with mobility issues should not be told to shelter in place in the case of a fire, they should have a plan that protects all students. SGA needs to be an active part of this as well.
The proposed constitutional amendments that were retracted would have eliminated the Campus Safety and Facilities Committee at a time when we need it most. That committee is supposed to do regular campus safety walks with administrators and determine areas that need attention.
That responsibility has not been done. Education requires a safe environment where students feel secure. It is harder to focus on learning when you are distracted by your own safety. We need to ensure students feel this campus is a safe environment to live and learn on, and to do that we need to make sure it actually is.
Though no one can be sure why there are such harmful events happening this semester, the students starting their first semester here are expecting the best and experiencing the worst. A car that was reported stolen a few weeks ago was totaled by a couple of juveniles, and guns and substances along with a stolen student ID were reportedly in the car. The police should be trying to create a better connection with students during this time so that we feel safe to call them when something happens. There is also the worry that whoever was assaulted and saw that email, as calling someone, walking not at dark or walking with a friend cannot 100% stop someone from hurting you.
An assault happens on campus and the police say to try not to walk in the dark, alone or to call someone. Then the water breaks on campus and they send out an email that the church is open for water, at night expecting students to walk to get water potentially by themselves and not on the phone.
Between the near-constant disasters and violent events, students are losing their minds. Even day-to-day life is taking its toll on them. Students have never so much as been properly informed of what to do during fire drills. The campus provides minimal resources to help them understand their role in evacuations. It becomes difficult to navigate stairs, and the campus fights tooth and nail against having well-known Area of Refuge policies. If students cannot even be confident in what to do during their third daily fire alarm, how are they supposed to trust the campus to know what to do in cases of sudden danger?
A safety thing to constantly think about is the dorms. While at most dorms, you have to swipe to get in and then swipe again to gain access to the elevator or stairs to get to the rooms, it is different in McLean. In McLean, you just have to swipe at the door and once you are in the building you have access to everything. Sometimes you do not even have to swipe because you can just walk in with people. After all the recent events, all the buildings have been doing is send out emails to remind everyone to show their ID upon entering the building and to sign in guests. The problem is that most people still ignore that and at the end of the day, if someone really wants to get into the building or to someone in the building, it is much easier than in any other dorm.
President Patterson's email addressing all of this is appreciated but it is also too little too late. Obviously it is not his fault that so many things have been impacting the campus but the fact that an assault happened and it was addressed by “you should call someone when you're walking” is insane. As with the water issue, once again they were trying to do what they could but completely opening Mclean when the only swipe necessary is to just walk in would have made students feel very uneasy living there. The lighting issue always makes students nervous to be on campus in the dark. Nobody knew about whoever drove through the fence and it was buried in the end of the president’s essay instead of a separate alert. For many seniors, it is difficult to remember a semester ever having so many things consistently happening, and the semester is only halfway through.