Editorial: Safety Notices must be more proactive

At the start of the school year, the University police department unveiled a new student alert system. The new system, Campus Safety Notices, replaced the old Crime Alerts system and was intended to provide the campus community the information, tools and resources needed to stay safe. But we have doubts of whether it has been successful.JT

As we near the end of the fall semester, only five Campus Safety Notices have been sent. Ideally, that would indicate low amounts of campus crime, but sadly, we know that’s not the case here.

Saturday, according to the Nov. 16 Champaign Police Department media report, a University student was sexually abused. In her own apartment.

The report was included amongst other reports of trespassing and domestic disputes. The unassuming eye would likely gloss over it, that is if they were even to actually read the police report. We suspect most students don’t.JT

The offender in this incident was arrested on the charges of breaking and entering and sexual abuse. There was likely no immediate threat to the campus, but it still took place in Campustown. And it happened to a student.JT

    Sign up for our newsletter!

    We understand if the University police department and administration don’t want to alarm students unnecessarily, but we think instances like this warrant a statement to inform and alert students.

    A major grievance of the old system, Crime Alerts, was the lack of expediency. An alert would be sent sometimes two days after an event occurred and students could not really benefit from them. We hoped Campus Safety Notices would change that but the system does not appear to be improved.

    Pat Wade, UIPD spokesman, said a notice was not issued because the offender was arrested and the immediate threat was mitigated. Wade also said the offense was under Champaign’s jurisdiction, and according to the federal Clery Act, it is not technically the UIPD’s place to issue a notice.

    However, he said, when there is an immediate threat to campus, the UIPD often works with the Champaign or Urbana police departments to issue notices and ensure campus safety and awareness.

    The Daily Illini’s Editorial Board believes students should be notified when other students are in danger. In this particular case, there was no immediate threat, the offender was arrested. But notices should be issued to inform students of how these incidences occur to increase their safety practices and awareness.

    Lack of notification about the crimes happening at the University may falsely lead students to believe that they do not occur, or they occur with far less frequency — which is simply not true.

    Currently, Campus Safety Notices are very reactive. The email blast states what happened, when and where it occurred and lists generic advice on campus safety. UIPD: Be more proactive.

    How about customized safety tips sent in relation to each incident? For example, explaining how someone was robbed and a reminder that students should lock their doors at all times would serve as a helpful wake up call. Regardless of the incident, students deserve to know the condition of their campus climate and should know when they need to take extra precautions.