The annual Campus Safety Walk took place last week on Thursday. Among the thirty or participants were Institute President Bud Peterson, his wife Val Peterson and various other members of the administration and student government.
Jimmy Williams, second-year BME and the incumbent chair of the SGA Planning and Development Chair of SGA organized the Campus Safety Walk.
â€œThe [Walk] is an annual event put on by SGA, allowing administrators and students to collaborate on safety issues. This year, with the heightened crime on campus, it was extremely important to get President Bud Peterson… [to see]the most imminent areas of safety concerns,â€ Williams said. â€œWe’re going to focus on heightened police patrols in the area, better lighting, more safety poles, pretty much anything that can better guarantee the safety of students… We’re also focusing more on the outskirts of campus this year since those areas tend to be… overlooked.â€
Although this event is a once a year activity, students shouldn’t think that safety is only handled once a year. â€œThe police are committed to this kind of thing regularly. This is just our time to reflect on the past year and to do an annual report on what still needs to be done next year,â€ Williams said.
Williams intimated that the event was marketed to both students and administrators. â€œIt’s a collaborative event, half and half to both students and faculty. It’s an opportunity for both sides to come together and have an open conversation,â€ Williams said.
Jason Middleton, chairman of Parking and Transportation, planned the route the walk would take which was the extremities around the campus. However, he felt that the safety walk would be more focused on the administrators.
â€œThe safety walk, I don’t think is too effective in getting things across to students and I don’t think that’s the goal. I think the main goal is making sure the administration is aware of what we as students see as problems.â€
During the tour, Williams, Middleton and Ian Mayberry, crime prevention officer, would stop at various locales and point out recent crimes that had occurred there. They would then explain why the crimes might have occurred where they did by offering reasons such as poor lighting or the location being the only route available. Afterwards they would offer suggestions or accept them from the audience to help alleviate problem. The sites selected to stop at were based on the most recent crimes.
â€œAs you might see here, the Coon area is dimly lit and since Cherry Street is the only access to the library, making this place particularly vulnerable for students. We’re making an effort to provide lighting for this area. Additionally, Stingers stop at midnight leading to a problem [with those studying late]. One possible solution is the Stingerettes. Unfortunately there were also robberies on the other side of the library as well and the crosswalk across from Bobby Dodd Stadium is a particularly vulnerable path,â€ Mayberry said at one stops.
Additional planned improvements were on North Ave., both along the road and the apartments.
â€œWe plan to make North Avenue a friendlier corridor,â€ Williams said. Current plans are to demolish an abandoned crosswalk across from the campus on North Ave. and to place street lamps alongside the road.
â€œWe also hope to plant trees along the road,â€ said Pendleton. When asked if it was because criminals were afraid of trees he said, â€œNo, but we’re just trying to make the place look nicer and better looking.â€
There are also plans to install a dining hall and recreation center in the North Avenue Apartments too. That would require tearing down gates which would require consolidating the area around the apartments and make it safe.
â€œPlans are tentative right now due to the need to acquire more landâ€ Williams said.
At the very least Williams hopes that the results of the Campus Safety Walk should benefit all students even if they didn’t participate in the walk.
â€œ[The media coverage] should be a great opportunity for this go out and branch to other students. With the walk this year, the idea has been focused on upgrading campus safety. Campus safety has been upgraded so all twelve thousand student benefit. So while not all students might participate in the walk, there is still a large opportunity for various student leaders here to put forth concern to their student bodies,â€ Williams said.