Safety on Campus Doesn’t Get a Winter Break

With 5,300 students to safeguard, UT’s Department of Safety and Security (DSS) agrees, “It’s better to be safe than sorry.” Although the main goal of the DSS is keeping the campus protected, the student community needs to help.

UT Security officers patrol 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Some have military backgrounds. Others are experienced in law enforcement. All feel they are trained for any surprising situation. Even though these patrol officers are constantly on duty, students should not misplace common sense.

Approximately 65 percent of UT’s population lives in residence halls. Even though they are scattered in different locations, safety precautions have been taken within the dorms. Doors are constantly locked. Therefore, students are advised not to give out keys or let anyone they don’t know enter.

Residence halls are always supervised by area coordinators. Under the coordinator’s supervision are head residents and resident assistants. R.A.’s are upper-class students living on each floor. They often act as a big brother or sister for residents, offering guidance, rules and protection.

Emergency telephones are located outside at the front of every residence hall. These phones can also be found at Ferman Music Center, Walker Hall, Martinez Parking Lot, Krusen Parking Lot and the Student Union entrance. If a student feels unsafe, they simply pick up one of these phones, which offer a direct line to campus security. It is also important for commuter students to understand that they always have this back-up help as well.

Living in a dorm or commuting to school does not change the outcome of daily campus activities. Commuter students also battle parking problems and parking lot safety issues.

“Walking to my car after a night class scares the heck out of me,” said student Candace Mikola said. “You never know who could be lurking on campus.”

Especially at nighttime, the safest way of getting to class is with another person. Student Government created the L.A.S.E.R. (Law Abiding Students Ever Ready) Team to solve this exact problem. This team provides an escort service to students who will be traveling alone. Mikola, a commuter, lived on campus for two years and used L.A.S.E.R. often. “I love L.A.S.E.R.!” she said. “It’s a quick, safe and easy way to get around campus.”

Commuters also have to remember other important tips, such as making sure their vehicle is always locked. Also, commuters are advised to never leave a car running or keep the keys inside. Also, as a general rule for all students, if someone else’s car alarm is ringing, don’t ignore it.

No matter how many precautions a person can take to avoid problems, the possibility of trouble still exists. Witnessing a crime or being a victim is traumatic. Responding to these incidents and fighting back is what can help heal the damage. After an event has occurred, the first and most important action is to remain safe. Then consider reporting it. Although most crimes are reported to the Campus Safety and Security Office, students have other options as well. Some of these include talking to Dean of Students Bob Ruday, Director of Human Resources or the Athletic Director.

Most students prefer to imagine, “Nothing like that could ever happen to me.” The reality is that it can, and anyone can become a victim. Students must always keep an alert attitude and be aware of their surroundings to stay safe.

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