U leaders create safety campaign

The University is launching “A Safe You is a Safe U” to teach students, faculty and staff how to enhance their safety on campus.

After a recent surge of criminal activity on and around campus, the University is looking to educate students on ways to better avoid being the target of crime.

The University, in its continuing effort to promote safety on campus, is launching a new program: “A Safe You is a Safe U.”

Amelious Whyte, chief of staff in the office of student affairs, said the University will focus on what students, faculty and staff can do to reduce crimes of opportunity, including theft.

“There are several factors which contribute to crime happening. One is a desire, but you can’t do anything about desire,” he said. “Another factor is the opportunity, and we can do something about the opportunity to commit a crime.”

Whyte said the idea behind the new program is to encourage students, faculty and staff to take responsibility to reduce possible criminal opportunities. To do this, he said, the program will raise awareness of the safety options available, such as the campus escort service.

University Police Chief Greg Hestness was among those in attendance at meetings to discuss the campaign.

Hestness pointed to laptop thefts as an example of easily avoidable crimes.

Of the laptops reported stolen on campus in the past year, Hestness said close to 75 percent were unsecured at the time they were taken.

“So that, for instance, is quite preventable,” he said.

Although Hestness said growth in the police force could be effective in reducing area crime, he said ultimately community participation is needed to make the campus safer.

The Minnesota Student Association, the office of student affairs and the vice president of University affairs and representatives from the president’s office were on hand for an initial discussion of the issue.

MSA President Emma Olson, who was also involved in the talks, said students are concerned about their safety.

“People are really aware of that and they want to make sure this university is safe for them,” she said. “The University wants to show what efforts they’re putting forth and make sure that students know what resources are out there for safety.”

But some students have expressed a desire to know more about what to do once crime happens to them when an incident can’t be avoided.

Sophomore public relations student Mykala Holtz said she feels safe on campus for the most part, but that the University might want to think about crime preparedness in addition to prevention.

“Techniques about someone approaching you, that would be helpful,” she said.

Junior graphics design student Jessi Eikos said the University could do more to promote common sense ways to help students prevent crime.

“People are dumb,” she said. “If they want to put effort into keeping people safe with this campaign, then it’s a good idea.

Art history sophomore Beth Cooper also said the program could be helpful for students, but that the University could focus on simple things students can do to protect themselves.

“I guess maybe more common sense techniques,” she said. “I’m kind of ditzy about it.”

Whyte said he’s optimistic about the program.

“I think there are things students can do to enhance their safety,” he said. “They can’t totally prevent somebody from doing something, but it’s all about reducing the risk.”