Campus safety issues have been on the minds of students across the county the past few months. One issue that is a main concern among UVSC students is feeling secure at night around campus.
UVSC has a low crime rate compared to other schools. "There are some things to consider when looking at our campus versus other institutions," said Sgt. Justin Sprague, UV Fire Marshall. "The biggest being we do not have on-campus housing which helps keep our crime statistics lower than other institutions."
While UVSC has a good safety record, there is still some room for improvement as UVSC transitions into a university. One safety concern is the lack of adequate lighting in certain parking lots and walkways around campus.
"Lighting for night students has been a concern for the last couple of years," said Joe Marrott, UVSC director of risk management and health and safety. Students walking in poorly lit areas subject themselves to being easy targets of crime such as robbery or sexual assault.
To avoid crime happening at night, UVSC has continually made improvements to the campus over the years. For example, the parking lots north of the campus used to be all gravel with no lighting whatsoever. Legitimate safety concerns were brought up by those on campus, and a paved parking lot with sufficient lighting was put in.
According to Marrott, over $100,000 has been provided by the administration to bring external lighting to a higher standard.
Lisa Davis, a junior at UVSC, is taking a night class this semester and generally feels safe on campus after dark. However, she sees some areas that could still use some improvement.
"There are places on campus that I definitely avoid after dark, such as the outside walkways around the Gunther [Technology] Building and some parts of the Computer Science Building. The lighting in these areas is lacking, but more especially, there seems to be significantly less traffic, and thus I don’t feel safe walking alone after dark," said Davis.
Davis uses the indoor hallways instead of the outdoor walkways if she has to walk in those areas at night, but avoids it when she can by parking in the Institute parking lot, where she feels safer with more people around and more lighting.
Todd Blake, assistant to the student body president, feels that safety is a concern, but should not be dramatized. "I totally feel safe on campus. But I’m a guy, so that may be different for girls. But I also think that a lot of girls on campus overreact to walking around on campus or in the parking lot at night."
"Like, if I’m walking behind a girl while leaving the school at 9 or 10 p.m., I can just feel the tension coming from her because she thinks I may be a predator," said Blake. Blake’s advice to females is to calm down and logically think about it: Some men have to go down the same path as women to get to their cars too.
Although overreacting is sometimes the case, it does not hurt to be on the safe side. If a person does not feel safe on campus, one can call the UV police department at (801) 863-5555 to request an escort to their car. The department can dispatch an officer as soon as possible depending on availability.
Marrott believes that UVSC is a safer place compared to the past and will continue to be better. "UVSC is working hard to provide a safe environment for learning and working.
University status changes will bring new challenges, but I am sure with the strong foundation of safety established through the years UVSC is up to the challenge."
Sgt. Justin Sprague’s safety tips for night students:
-Always have another person walk with you.
-Try to stay in well-lit areas.
-Be extremely careful while entering crosswalks, as it is very difficult to see pedestrians at night.
-Be aware of your surroundings and report anything suspicious immediately. Don’t wait until you get home to report it.
-Keep a cell phone close by with UVSC Dispatch, (801) 863-5555, programmed into your contacts.