Keeping safety first on campus
A growing concern for college students today is the safety of their campus. While universities such as Lee offer a well-resourced security detail, to truly maintain a safety, students must work together with those officers to monitor and report any potentially dangerous situations.
Junior Church Music Major Sophie Lockhart understands the importance of being safety minded during daily life at Lee. Lockhart said your normal routine can easily become unpredictable, so it is important to think about the little things you can do to remain safe.
“I think it is important for students to be safety minded because you really don't know what is going to happen,” Lockhart said. “Simple things like making sure your doors are locked, making sure your car doors are locked and being aware of your surroundings can go a long way.”
Lockhart is also a building monitor for the School of Music, so she has even more concern for student safety. She says that the School of Music has been plagued with theft in the parking lot in the past, but that Campus Security personnel have combatted it well.
“I've been lucky to not come across a lot of theft or other threats within my job. That does not mean it's not out there, though,” Lockhart said. “I know car theft was a problem in the School of Music parking lot a few times since I have been here and Campus Security as well as the students affected responded appropriately to the situation.”
Theft remains one of the most prominent crimes on college campuses across the state of Tennessee. According to a study conducted by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, 29 percent of all offenses reported in 2015 were categorized as larceny or theft. The frequency of these crimes has prompted colleges to develop more specific safety plans.
Lee’s Campus Security team enacts several strategies to help create and maintain a safe campus for all students, faculty and visitors, which can be found on the Lee University website.
Director of Campus Security Matthew Brinkman said that officers constantly patrol Lee’s campus while also monitoring security cameras and checking individual buildings.
“Officers patrol the campus 24/7, 365 days per year,” Brinkman said. “Our department also monitors security cameras which sit on a third of the campus and will dispatch other officers to the scene if there is any suspicious activity.”
Cleveland State Community College also has 24-hour security personnel on duty to monitor the campus and its buildings, according to their Comprehensive Safety Plan. Additionally, both schools encourage students to be active participants in keeping the campus safe. Brinkman said it is vital for students to communicate with Campus Security about potential threats.
“If you see something suspicious, then call [Campus Security],” Brinkman said. “Sometimes students are reluctant to call because they do not want to get someone in trouble… if it seems suspicious, there is nothing wrong with officers checking it out.”
Despite efforts by Campus Security officers, it is up to students to take charge of their own safety. Brinkman said students can be proactive about their safety by employing simple safety methods.
“The best thing that students can do to help aid in their protection is just to be aware of their surroundings,” Brinkman said. “When out walking or exercising after dark, keep your head out of the phone. Pay attention to what is happening around and behind you and where the quickest escape route might be.”
If a student still feels uncomfortable or unsafe, Campus Security gladly offers aid in the form of car rides across campus, or even just the presence of an officer if a student is alone at night on campus.
“If you are pulling into a parking lot after dark and have to unload some things, call Security,” Brinkman said. “We will be happy to provide an escort for anyone who doesn’t feel safe to walk back to their residence hall after dark or anytime for that matter.”
Students are encouraged to report any suspicious behavior to Campus Security first, and then call 911 if a situation is dire or life threatening. Lee’s Campus Security team can be reached by calling 423-303-4444 or visiting their office at 1000 Barnes Street, Cleveland, TN 37320.