Abigail Eck, Opinions Editor
Throughout the week of Nov. 1 to Nov. 6, “The Echo” hosted a poll on campus safety. The poll was a simple three questions: what gender you identify as, do you feel safe on campus and an optional question asking, “Do you have any comments you would like to add in regards to how safe you feel on campus?” This was an anonymous poll with 138 responses.
The results were as follows: 73.9% of the respondents identified as women, 21.7% as men, and 4.3% as non-binary. 63% answered that they did feel safe on campus, and 37% did not. There were 76 responses in the optional comment section, meaning that 55% of the responders also commented.
37% answering no is already a startling number. However, this number is increased when looking through the comments in the optional response section, which primarily stated, “yes, I do feel safe, but only at certain times/during certain events/in certain places.”
The main points of feedback can be grouped into three primary concerns: there is a desire for a higher presence of DPS on campus, a need for better lighting and cameras and a general feeling of unsafety on campus.
The people who responded that they want more presence from the DPS on campus primarily asked for more presence in the evening hours, one response stating that, “I do not feel that Augsburg security is visible in the evening hours.” There were other comments of general worry about how DPS works in terms of efficiency as well as concerns that students weren’t actually the primary concern for the department. The responses especially centered around failures in escorts.
There was also an abundance of comments expressing uneasiness with the physical environment of the campus, primarily centered around lighting on campus and security cameras. One responder commented, “As a near-senior faculty member I do feel apprehensive when I walk to my car after a night class. It doesn’t matter if I’m parked in Lot L or the faculty lot … it’s dark part of the way. I’m frailer than I used to be.” Certain places on campus that were noted to have little to no lighting at night were the sidewalk between the tunnel and Old Main, parking lot L, the parking lot between Mortensen and the parking lot behind Anderson. These were primarily recognized by students and faculty who have night classes. Others expressed discontent about the lack of cameras on campus which relates to the recent slew of robberies on campus.
Others commented general dissatisfaction with their own feelings of personal safety on the ground overall, multiple people stating, “I feel safe inside, but not on the grounds,” “I’m nervous to walk around alone” and “I do not feel safe at night.”
There are different dimensions of safety: such as harassment and abuse, emotional safety, the built environment and the natural environment. Other comments asked for better communication, prioritizing of escorts as well as a concern for response to an emergency.
In reflection of the responses given, there are a few possibilities that could offer a generally more positive feeling of safety on campus: prioritizing of escorts, more presence of patrols, especially during night classes, and a general installment of better lighting and cameras on campus. Other possibilities would be for each officer to have first-aid and CPR certifications.
This is a small sample of feelings of safety among our campus population, but it is, nonetheless, still a significant part of our campus that have feelings of dissatisfaction of their own safety.
This article was originally published in the Dec. 14, 2018 issue.