LU Can Change These Things to Improve Campus Security

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Annette Schaefer | Lindenlink Contributor

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Courtesy of the Legacy
Annette Schaefer

Lindenwood has made several recent additions to campus security, including emergency phones and surveillance cameras, and while these are great improvements, they fall short of being all LU can do to keep students safe.

For the most part, Lindenwood is a safe place to be. It’s situated in a fairly nice part of St. Charles, with lower crime rates than many communities in the St. Louis area.

This semester the Investigative Reporting class has researched some of the safety issues on campus. We have heard from students and staff alike to come up with a list of changes that should be implemented here at Lindenwood.

A poll of 94 students and dozens of interviews on campus have revealed that  top concerns among students are the lack of lighting around campus and the inefficient placement of the emergency phones.

While the emergency phones, or “blue lights,” were supposed to help students feel safe walking around campus, these lights were placed in both odd areas and not enough areas. It would make more sense to have them placed in areas that are not as well lit rather than the areas that are, where they are currently situated.

Second, lighting on campus overall seems to be dim and would open possibilities for people to get away with breaching the safety of our school. More lights need to be installed.

Many students also think the installation of surveillance cameras was helpful but not enough. Most cameras are not obvious in the locations they are placed, so they aren’t a deterrent, and although Lindenwood has 160 such cameras, more need to be installed, especially outside of dorms, where many students travel frequently.

In addition, the surveillance cameras currently are only looked at if a crime has occurred; they should be monitored constantly to stop crime before it happens.

Since John Bowman became head of security at LU this year, more security officers have been added, but again, the numbers are still short of providing adequate security. As the student population grows, so should its security force.

In addition to adding more guards, security personnel need more and better training and they need to be more visible, something that could be accomplished by making regular checks in dorms or more foot patrols.

Based on the security practices of other campuses it is apparent that Lindenwood is lacking in its ability to protect its students. Many colleges either enlist the local police to help them out or have security officers who are armed. While it may not be necessary for our officers to carry guns, it would be helpful if they at least were able to use non-lethal weapons such as tasers.

Other changes that could make the campus safer include having regular seminars about personal safety and offering more self-defense classes, perhaps even as part of an exercise class at Evans Commons. Bowman said in an interview that better ways need to be found to get out safety information, and these would accomplish that.

In addition, efforts should be made to reach out to international students, who often are unfamiliar with Midwest weather, like tornadoes and snow. The Rave alerts exist, but are not always effective. Often messages are sent too late or are never sent at all. The texts and emails could also mention the safety procedures taken during dangerous weather situations.

Safety procedures also should be emphasized in the Freshman Experience class, and offered to transfer and graduate students as well.

Students who are better prepared to defend themselves in a critical situation will also be more likely to recognize a dangerous situation and be able to avoid it. LU can and should take these steps to become the safest campus it can possibly be.