Editorial: Students must take safety notices seriously

Last Thursday, students of the University received an email from University of Illinois Police Department Chief Jeff Christensen detailing four separate criminal incidents that occurred just north of campus.

If you’re like most students, you probably marked the email as read, without actually bothering to take notice of the enclosed information.

Security on college campuses has become a frequent nationwide conversation following the rash of shootings in the past several years, with many students advocating for increased gun control or mental health awareness.

Yet, despite how fervently many students push for policy changes that could lower the threat of mass violence on campus, few seem to take every measure possible to ensure their own safety — such as actually reading the safety notices that the UIPD carefully curates when active security threats present themselves.

“It’s information to keep you safe and help us potentially identify who the offenders are,” Christensen said in a meeting with The Daily Illini Editorial Board on Thursday. “We want to use them as more educational, to let folks know what the resources are.”

The UIPD is legally required by the Clery Act to send out safety notices when crime occurs within certain campus limits. If the criminal offender is caught by the UIPD relatively quickly, the department refrains from sending a notice. Safety notices are only issued when an offender remains at large, and students need to protect themselves. This makes it all the more important for students to read every notice they receive in a timely manner.

Safety notices are split into two designations: campus alerts and community alerts. The two are differentiated only by the location of the crime and have equal importance for students. Illini Alerts are slightly different, in that they are released for any urgent threat to student safety: extreme weather, the leaking of hazardous materials and active shooters all fall under this category.

Students should take advantage of the comprehensive information we receive from the UIPD because most communities don’t have the benefit of receiving specific notices of crimes nearby.

“People know not to (walk alone at night) here because we have things like the campus safety notices, and we do some stuff on social media,” Pat Wade, UIPD spokesman, said. “Whereas, when you go back home, your city is not sending out emails every time there’s a robbery.”

The University is large, but its campus is tight-knit. When the next safety notice comes out, take some time to read it. Make sure you’re taking precautions not to be a victim, and make sure those around you are being safe as well.

We have the ability to make this campus and our classmates safe and comfortable, but the first step in doing so is to stay informed of the potential threats around us.