Public safety working to keep students safe

By Paul Nasella
April 7, 2005

Shawn Rice

Dead-bolt locks, electronically controlled identification card systems and frequent patrols by Public Safety. These are just a few of the measures that have been taken to keep the resident students safe here at Cabrini College. But are they as safe as some make it out to be?

Charlie Schaffner, the director of Public Safety, said, “I think the security on the campus is good to excellent.”

However, two freshmen who wished to remain anonymous said, “Anybody can get in if you walk by and act like you live here, the guard will not stop you.”

Nonetheless, one of the biggest problems concerning dorm security is the problem of propping doors. “The biggest problem that we have is young people who, for whatever reason, leave a door unlocked, open or propped just invite somebody to come into the building that’s not authorized,” Schaffner said.

In response to the easy access that propped doors provides, Schaffner said, “There’s not an awful lot we can do about that, short of sitting there at the door watching the doors when the kids go in.”

According to some students, that is exactly what they’ve been doing. “When the guards are on duty, they sit at the desk and watch TV. Typically, you’ll see like 20 kids go by without them looking up or asking one person to see an i.d. At night, either the RA or the guard is sitting there. Typically you just walk by and say ‘hi’ or smile, and just go on your way,” the same two freshmen said.

Public Safety frequently patrols the residence halls throughout the night as well as stationing an officer at the front desk of the major residence halls between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. They can also be seen patrolling the campus and the dorms during the day as well.

“Public Safety is going through the buildings on a regular basis every night,” Schaffner said. “We do what is called a ‘pipe-route,’ we go through and check different spots with a wand that tells us you’ve been there. We do that once in the residence hall from 4 p.m. to 12 p.m. and twice during the midnight shift.”

The Residence Life office educates residents and brings awareness about what they should do to keep their place of living a safe one. Laura Shapella, assistant director of resident life, said, “I think education is an important thing. We’re educating residents about what they need to do to keep things safe; about locking their doors, carrying their keys with them, not letting people in to the building and helping students to take that responsibility for keeping the halls safe.”

All of these measures are taken not only keep residents safe, but to prevent any heinous crimes from occurring such as the 1986 rape and murder of Jeanne Cleary at Lehigh University.

According to an article published online on March 21, 2005 by the Montana Kaimin, “Jeanne Cleary was raped and murdered in her Lehigh University dorm room in 1986. Cleary’s death prompted the United States to pass what is now known as the Cleary Act of 1990, which requires colleges and universities to report all crime statistics to the FBI and inform students of the threat of being victimized on campuses.”

Schaffner said, “Jeanne Cleary, who was raped and killed at Lehigh University a number of years ago has sparked our reporting standards for the nation as an academic institution with the Cleary Act. That all occurred because someone left a door open. Lehigh is not a very crime ridden place but unfortunately, it happened and if the residential population continues to prop doors, it could conceivably happen here. That’s something I certainly don’t want to see happen here at Cabrini College.”

But, despite efforts by public safety to make the dorms a safer place, it can be asked if they are really achieving their goal in keeping the dorms safe. Since 2002, theft/larceny offenses have risen from 23 in 2002 to 52 in 2004. Vandalism offenses have risen from 71 in 2002 to 149 in 2004.

One freshman that wished to remain anonymous said, “The security could be better because things get broken by people who don’t live in our dorm.”

According to the Residence Life information & policies section of the 04-05 Cabrini College student handbook, “Students are strongly cautioned against allowing unknown individuals into a hall at the time of their own entry or exit, and are prohibited from propping exterior doors or exits in an effort to circumvent the card access system. Such behavior compromises the security of all building residents and is considered exceptionally dangerous behavior in residential community.”

Students are “strongly cautioned” against letting people into the building. Junior graphic design major Rebecca Simeone said, “Just the front door is monitored in the Cabrini Apartment Complex, not the back door. So, I do know people come in the back door. Public safety does not check id’s or have anyone sitting at that backdoor to monitor people coming in.”

Fiona Bride, an exercise science and health promotion major, said, “There is a public safety officer at the front entrance. But downstairs, there is a backdoor and even though it’s monitored, people still come in and out.”

Therefore, a reporter believes the student body is also to blame for the current state of security that the school is in. From propping doors to letting people in through the back door, a reporter feels it is evident there is more to keeping the dorms safe than just pointing the finger at Public Safety.

“So, if a student sees somebody propping a door, if a student sees somebody in the building that they know doesn’t belong there and is not escorted by somebody that belongs there, then they should really call Public Safety and let us know so that we can come down and make sure that the rules are being followed and everybody’s safe,” Schaffner said.

Schaffner also had one last message to the Cabrini College community, “If you belong in the building, that’s fine. If you want to have a guest, that’s fine. But do it the right way and that way, it could save your neighbor.”

Posted to the web by Shawn Rice

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Paul Nasella

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