Safety month reaches WVU’s campus
Published: Friday, September 28, 2012
Updated: Friday, September 28, 2012 07:09
Across the country, and even close to home, random acts of violence have become more prevalent, instilling fear in many.
September marks National Campus Safety Awareness Month, and the West Virginia University Police and Morgantown police are reminding the community to be cautious.
"National Campus Safety Awareness Month is actually a national campaign sponsored by Security on Campus, which is part of the Clery Act," said University Police chief Bob Roberts. "The goal is to raise awareness of the level of crime on campus and teach people how to protect themselves and get involved in crime prevention."
Many programs have been created on campus to address violence and safety concerns on campus. Programs such as Green Dot and leadWELL aim to teach bystanders to do more than just stand by and watch crimes occur.
Recently, members of the Morgantown City Council discussed possible solutions to the incidents downtown late at night.
The council is considering passing ordinances to have last call for bars at midnight, and possibly altering the patron entrance age to 21 for all local bars.
"This is a concern we have here in the city, and we need to address it, but we need to get all of the entities together to discuss this – the city, WVU, business owners and the county – sit down and see what we can do instead of just shot gunning things," said Mayor Jim Manilla. "We can’t just think of doing random things right off the bat, but we need to really address this and address this."
WVU’s recent partnership with the International Town & Gown Association further proves its interest in solving these issues.
The International Town & Gown Association is an organization that puts together officials and representatives from many universities to solve common issues.
"It will be interesting to see what’s happening on those campuses and how they are dealing with some of the issues we have here in Morgantown," Manilla said. "I think that joining the ITGA and looking at how other communities deal with situations like we have will benefit us here in Morgantown."
Morgantown resident Brandon Jackson said he
believes safety is an issue problem that will continue to plague Morgantown.
"It’s just another day in Morgantown, if you ask me," Jackson said. "The area I live near West Run Road has a break-in every other day. I honestly don’t think there’s a safe town around anymore, even if it is a small, country town."
Sophomore journalism student Ryan Glaspell believes it will take more than just laws to solve the problem, and some may have to learn the hard way.
"Nobody is going to feel less safe until they directly experience something to make them feel otherwise," Glaspell said.
Many students recognize these incidents are occurring all over the United States, and being more cautious is an adjustment everyone will have to make.
"I still feel the same level of security as I did freshman year when I came to Morgantown," said junior management information systems student Brice Barker. "I realize there is always a level of danger if you’re out late or walking alone in an isolated area, but I try to stay as smart as possible by staying in lighted areas and avoiding alleys. I’ve never encountered any problems in almost four years here."
Barker said he believes the acts of violence are not limited to Morgantown, and citizens have to be cautious everywhere they go.
"This may occur in Morgantown more often because of the alcohol involved and people coming home late from downtown alone, but if you’re alone at night, that stuff can happen anywhere," Barker said. "You just have to try to stay as cautious as possible."
Morgantown resident Courtney Schindler said she believes the community can’t live in fear – regardless of these incidents.
"It’s not a matter of feeling safe or not; we have to continue living our everyday lives," Schindler said. "It could happen to anyone, anywhere, at any time."
According to Roberts, 90 percent of the incidents that occur on record are preventable.
If two people walk together, it reduces the chances of attack by 85 percent, and if an individual walks with three or more, it becomes 95 percent preventable, Roberts said.
"It’s important that students know where the emergency phones are on campus and how to get in touch with us," Roberts said. "If an incident happens while they’re on or near campus, they should call us immediately. If you see something going on, call the police. In society, people want to think about ‘ratting out’ people, but you’re not ‘ratting’ people out; you’re making your community safe."
Fore more information, visit http://police.wvu.edu.To speak with an officer, call 304-293-3136.