Do students feel campus is becoming safer?

Twenty-nine percent of students surveyed feel the campus is becoming more dangerous.Editor’s Note: This is the first of a three-part series examining the students’ feelings on campus safety. Part two will run tomorrow.

Andy Steinke

Another weekend, another late-night robbery at gunpoint calling for a crime alert. Including this weekend’s alert, the University Police Department has now issued 15 alerts this academic school year.

With e-mails for bomb threats, aggravated robberies and assaults circulating frequently, how safe do students feel their campus truly is?

The Minnesota Daily’s Safety and Security Survey found that only 7 percent of respondents felt the campus was becoming safer, while 29 percent of students said they felt campus was becoming more dangerous.

The remaining 64 percent said they didn’t think there was a change in campus safety.

All respondents said they felt safe inside University buildings.

Postsecondary enrollment options student Christopher Geno said he feels safe on campus.

“There’s the occasional guy who looks at you funny, but it’s safe,” he said.

He said he hasn’t noticed a change in overall campus safety, but has noticed there haven’t been any bomb threats yet this calendar year.

University police Deputy Chief Steve Johnson said the department has been issuing more crime alerts in recent years because of a change made to the Clery Act, which requires universities to disclose campus crime to students and staff.

“The crime alerts help people become aware of crimes that are occurring, how to help avoid being the victim of a similar crime and to help us solve crimes,” he said.

Despite the increase in crime alerts, Part I and Part II crimes on the University’s Twin Cities campus have decreased every year since 2003, according to University police crime statistics.

Part I crimes include robbery, theft, homicide and assault with a weapon. Part II crimes include property damage, DUIs and drug offenses.

The higher number of alerts, as well as crime that happens in the neighborhoods next to campus, however, might contribute to the perception that campus is unsafe.

Seventy-three percent of the survey respondents felt that it wasn’t fellow students committing most of the crimes on campus, but nonstudents.

The time of day also seemed to affect how the students perceived campus safety.

Ninety-nine percent of students said they felt at least moderately safe on campus during the day. But that number dropped to 68 percent when day turned to night.

“Many of these robberies, including the one over the weekend, are happening late at night,” Johnson said.

Geno said his personal safety has crossed his mind when he walks to his car after a night class at the University.

For those feeling unsafe walking alone on campus or walking on campus late at night, Johnson advises them to use the department’s security escort service.

“We have never had someone robbed while using the service,” he said.