Anderson University students feel safe

Wed, 2011-08-24 10:32 -- univcomm
August 24, 2011

Walking across campus at night and all alone doesn’t worry Jessica Kinard.

The Anderson University senior said she feels nothing but secure when on campus.

valley11“I feel safe,” she said. “Definitely a lot safer than I have felt walking on other campuses that I have been to.”

That feeling of safety is due to what Kinard said was a personal stance that campus security takes on protecting its students.

“I worked with security when the Colts were here,” she said. “I know that some of the security officers have relatives at Anderson and make their job personal.”

Students begin moving back to the university on Thursday. Classes start Monday.

Of the programs available to all students, Kinard said Raven Alert was her favorite.

“It’s great for school cancellations. Not everyone checks their email before class so sending it to the phone is so convenient,” she said. “They do a great job with security and text alerts.”

Sophomore Kaylee McDougall said she believed the reason AU has such a safe campus is because of its size.

“It’s a smaller campus but because of that I think it improves the safeness,” McDougall said. “AU does what it can to keep the students and campus safe.”

Students like Kinard and McDougall are instructed every year on where to go if confronted with an unsafe situation.

“We have blue light safety poles that you can call security from. We also have safe havens where the doors can lock and you can receive help if needed,” McDougall said. “You can even call security to get a ride back to your dorm if it is late at night.”

Walter Smith, director of police and security services at AU, has helped keep students safe on campus for 19 years. His security team protects a student body of roughly 2,700 students through a number of safety programs and measures.

One particular measure is the use of safe haven buildings.

“I am unaware of any other campus that has safe havens,” Smith said.

Safe havens are located on the campus maps given to all students at the start of every school year, he said. Specific buildings will always have an unlocked outer door that can be locked once a student is inside.

“The safe havens have a telephone with directions. The phone will go directly to the officer on duty,” he said. “The wellness center has magnetic locks. If a person feels threatened they can push the red button, which locks the door and sends a message that the door has been locked.”

If a student seeks assistance and doesn’t feel an immediate threat, blue light towers are placed throughout campus for help. When the red button on the tower is pushed, it activates a flashing blue light.

“There is also a black button that can be pushed to call any extension on campus,” Smith said. “It’s so they can call out without activating the blue light. I think a lot of students forget they can go to the towers to call back to the dorm.”

Smith said the shuttle service, which runs from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. between fall and spring break, has resulted in a decrease of break-ins.

The 2009 crime report from AU’s Police and Security Services showed eight burglaries. The number is down from a reported 11 burglaries in 2008 and 20 in 2007. There were no reports of violent crimes happening on campus from 2007 to 2009, according to the report. Smith said the 2010 report has not been completed.

Other factors attributing to a safe campus was the employment of five full-time academy trained police officers. Officers also act as EMTs, responding to about 120 medical calls a year.

“Most of us have come from other agencies,” Smith said. “We have in-depth knowledge and awareness.”

Additionally, the campus trains resident advisers, conducts fire, tornado and lock-down drills and offers safety classes for women.

“We’re small enough to do a lot,” Smith said. “But we’re not big enough to do everything.”

Vigilance and environmental awareness are two key back-to-campus safety measures all students should take, said Sgt. Rod Russell.

Russell, the public information and recruiting officer for the Pendleton district of the Indiana State Police, sends a college student safety tip sheet out every year.

“I know they’re kind of standard,” Russell said. “There is a lot of crime on campus from campus to campus.”

The list is something he directs to all students new and old, male and female.

“Freshmen in particular are caught up in the experience and getting acclimated with the when and where,” he said. “It can be overwhelming and safety gets put on the back burner.”

Russell said students should remain aware even in the safety of a dorm room.

“Don’t give out your personal information on social networking sites. Predators cruise these sites and can see who you are, where you live and where you are going,” he said. “Students are often careless with credit cards and personal information making them targets for identity theft.”

Another key to safety is avoiding being under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

“It prevents you from making choices and decisions,” Russell said. “You should be careful all the time. Don’t let your guard down.”

—April Abernathy is a reporter for The Herald Bulletin. Story republished with permission.

Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2010, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the seventh consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing and theology.