Jennifer Bruhn|Lindenlink Contributor
A dorm is a student´s home away from home, but is it as safe? While students complain about theft and intruders, John Bowman, director of Public Safety and Security at Lindenwood University, says these incidents rarely happen. Bowman said dorms are safe as long as security procedures are followed.
“They are secured, they have desk sitters and the only way to get in is when students let the door open,” he said.
Despite security procedures, incidences do occur on campus, which makes dorm safety a concern. However, most are minor happenings such as lock outs, alarms and maintenance issues.
According to a recent student poll, theft is among the top concerns of students at LU.
Senior Steve Kornfeld has lived in the dorms for all four years he has attended the university. While a theft has never occurred to him, he believes it could be easily done.
“The dorm doors are often held open by trash cans, and someone could easily walk in as another person is leaving,” he said. “I`ve known keys to some people`s rooms that can unlock other doors on different floors.”
Some students also noticed that they could use their key cards to open doors of dorms they didn`t live in. Assistant Housing Director Constance West said the key card problem should only occur if a student changes housing, and it should only be short-lived.
“Typically, the card changes immediately,” she said. Freshman Mary Killman, living in women´s housing, recounted an incident during fall semester where a boy broke into a friend`s house. The girl flipped out, Killman said. “Who wouldn´t with a guy chilling in the dark in your room at 4 a.m.?” she said.
Bowman said students can prevent this type of incident by making sure that windows are locked and by leaving the lights on when they are not home.
Senior Hannah Victor, who lives in women´s housing, also had an experience with an uninvited guest in October.
“I was making dinner with my roommate and waiting for some friends to come over,” she said. “They came in the back door and were startled to find a man standing on our back deck. He ran away when he saw them, and they came in and told us what they saw.” Victor called security, who installed a light, but they never figured out who the man was.
“It made me more paranoid and definitely more aware of my surroundings,” she said. “I feel less safe than before and use extra caution, especially at night.”
Other students said they´ve never had any problems with housing security.
“I feel safe because we always lock our door at night,” said Senior Romina Mueller, who lives in women´s housing.
Bowman said security tries to keep students safe.
“The houses are on public streets and are in neighborhoods with everybody else,” he said. “We try to control that as much as we can.”
While intruders are a concern, five burglaries have been reported in student housing this year – two in dorms and three in other housing.
Last month, someone stole a $1,400 laptop from a student´s room in Pfremmer Hall. The student left his dorm room unlocked because he didn´t have his key, and when he returned two hours later, his laptop was gone, said Bowman.
“You cannot leave doors open; you are inviting trouble in,” Bowman said. “We have a lot of good students, but the campus is open.”
Bowman said students should also keep a record of the serial numbers on valuables in case they are stolen; otherwise there may be no way to prove ownership of property that gets recovered.
Bowman said the most important tip to stay safe in the dorms and in the houses is simple – follow the guidelines regarding visitors.
“We want to treat you like adults; we don´t want to have security at all doors,” he said. “But you still have to follow the rules.”