Campus improvements may lead to better student safety


Editorial Board

Issue: The 2008 Clery Report shed a positive light on campus safety at SDSU, but we know that many students still feel unsafe, especially at night or when walking from distant parking lots.

Most of the time SDSU students feel safe on campus – and these students can feel good that crime statistics seem to back that notion up.

According to the Clery Report – which is issued each October about the number of violent crimes that occurred on campus the previous year – the most prevalent crimes committed in and around the SDSU campus are liquor and drug law violations. Burglaries came in as the third-highest crime committed at 31 total for on-campus and non-campus buildings and residential facilities for students. This isn’t terribly surprising either because almost every upperclassmen knows someone who has had video games, gaming consoles or DVDs stolen from their rooms.

As for more violent crimes, no murders, manslaughters or sex offenses were reported at SDSU in 2008.

Despite some of the Clery Report’s reassuring statistics, there are times that students feel unsafe at SDSU. Some people feel unsafe walking across campus when it’s dark, and many women feel uncomfortable when walking from the “rape lot.” The reason this lot, located near the Intramural Field, even has that name is an interesting discussion.

To our knowledge, people call it the “rape lot” not because there have been reported rapes there in the last couple of years. It’s more so because women feel uncomfortable walking to their dorm from that faraway lot and figure if they were to be raped or assaulted on campus, walking from that lot would be the time.

For the university’s part, officials have tried to make walking from distant parking lots or across campus at night a little bit safer. Students, faculty, staff and visitors can call the South Dakota State University Police Department 24 hours a day at 688-5117, and an officer will accompany those people to and from on-campus residences, offices and vehicles.

There are also about 20 emergency call boxes across campus. Students can find these boxes’ locations marked by a star on many campus maps, such as the 2009 parking map or the campus map found on SDSU’s Web site.

Still, we think the campus could be made safer. We are disappointed when we see broken emergency call boxes, and we think more lighting should be installed in some of the darker areas of campus. For example, some Collegian staffers have felt uncomfortable in dark areas by the Hilton M. Briggs Library, near several of the construction projects, in many of the parking lots and by the northwest corner of campus near Agricultural Hall or the Wecota/ Wenona area.

We would also like to see more information and awareness about the Clery Report.

Many students do not even know that this report is available to them. For those who received a postcard about the report in the mail this year, part of that ignorance is their fault, but we do think campus officials and the SDSUPD could create more awareness about campus safety, such as hosting a program about the report in the residence halls.

Along those lines, once students get the report, they may have questions on what things – such as a weapons law violation – mean. We’re curious if that means someone just forgot to put his/her gun away after hunting or if someone actually had a gun in a classroom. More information on what some of those violations mean would be appreciated.

In the end, we want students to feel safe anywhere and at any time at SDSU. Part of that idea is students having as much information as possible about their school, but some campus improvements could also make students feel safer. We realize some of these measures will cost money, but it is hard to put a price on students’ peace of mind.

Stance: SDSU truly is the students’ home away from home, and students deserve to feel safe in their own homes. We think some campus improvements, such as more lighting in the dimly lit areas of campus, would help students feel safer. We would also like to see students become more informed about violent crimes at their school.