Freshmen discuss public safety after first semester on campus

By Megan Krok, Contributing Writer

According to the University’s crime log, over 240 crimes have been committed on or near campus in November and October. However, in comparison to other Big Ten schools, the University has had lower crime rates of weapon possession, sexual assault and burglaries according to a 2021-22 school year summary.

While there are more minor crimes on campus like the use of fake IDs, some crimes like sexual assault and armed robberies are more alarming to students and have a heightened presence among the student body. Freshmen have voiced how they feel regarding crime on campus while wrapping up their first semester.

“For the most part, I do feel safe on campus,” Morgan Lakota, freshman in LAS, said. “But when I do see emails about crime happening in the area, it makes me feel a little worried that I don’t live on a very safe campus.”

Sydney Robison-Girard, freshman in Division of General Studies, also expressed worry about the Illini-Alerts.

“When I’m walking around campus, for the most part I feel safe, but when I get emails about fires, stabbings and armed robberies, it makes me feel a little bit uneasy,” Robison-Girard said. “But because I’ve never come into contact with any of that and I’ve seen police officers driving past my building and around campus, I feel more secure, but the emails definitely make me cautious.”

All freshmen at the University are required to live in University Housing. Patrick Wade, senior director of Strategic Communications with the University’s Division of Public Safety, said that crime occurs at a comparatively less frequent rate within University Housing compared to other residential options on or off campus.

Aurora Lopez, senior in ACES and a resident adviser with University Housing, emphasized that students should always be aware of their surroundings, regardless of how safe their housing situation may be.

“As RAs, there’s only so much we can do,” Lopez said. “We advocate that students always lock their doors and to not let anyone in the building unless they know them. Additionally, we have residents report to RA staff any safety concerns, then proceed with the designated procedures.”

Wade said learning how to stay safe on campus and staying informed will help freshmen feel more at ease. Wade recommended students sign up for Illini-Alerts text messages, look at crime statistics and view the crime map on the division’s website.

“The more information you have, the better you can protect yourself,” Wade said.

Wade also recommended students walk in groups at night, stay in well-lit areas and call SafeWalks, a free service provided by the University to send a student patrol officer to escort students home if they are alone.

Wade said he expects that crime this semester is actually lower than the previous.

“We do (send alerts) so people can be aware, but it creates the perception that crime is a little higher than it really is,” Wade said. “At home, freshmen were not getting emails from their cities about crime that was happening. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t happening, people just weren’t necessarily aware of it.”

 

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