Campus safety a concern as students settle into campus

By Marie MacCune

As students get settled into their dorms and apartments throughout the University of Massachusetts and its surrounding communities and the fall semester gets into full swing, safety throughout campus is a concern for many. The Clery Center for Security on Campus has even deemed September “Campus Safety Month.”

Campus safety is not simply a once-a-year concern, though it is stressed especially during the early weeks of the semester to refresh the minds of students. The Office of Residential Life works all year with the UMass Police Department in order to ensure that UMass is a safe environment for everyone on campus.

According to Jean MacKimmie, director of Residential Education, all residence directors and assistants go through extensive training programs with UMPD and residential security before the rest of the University moves in.

Stephen Treat/Collegian File Photo

Last spring, a new program was introduced in the residential halls where a UMPD officer is assigned to each hall and is meant to work with those students throughout the year.

“The hope is that they build a relationship with the residential faculty and students, hosting programs to address issues specific to that hall and acting as a reference for any security questions or problems for those living there,” MacKimmie said.

UMPD Deputy Chief Patrick Archbald says he will be focusing on education and community outreach as part of the program.

“Our primary reports of crime are larcenies and malicious destruction,” Archbald said. He is hoping that presentations given during residence hall talks will prove successful as preventative measures.

“The biggest challenge facing UMass safety is that people feel anonymous,” MacKimmie said.

UMPD, along with the Office of Residential Life, encourages students to take an active role in their safety on campus. Students are encouraged to report suspicious behavior, and if they feel unsafe, they may use the Walking Escort Service or the HELP Phones located across campus in emergency situations.

“We have a really good infrastructure (for safety), but our system is only as good as the users make it,” MacKimmie said. “Community is a really important part of this. If everyone speaks up when something’s not right, we’ll all be better off.”

Archbald recognized that students want to have fun, but is hoping that through education and awareness they can do it in a smart and safe manner.

Becca Brossoit, an RA and junior studying psychology, expressed similar concerns, finding drug and alcohol use to be some of the biggest safety concerns to students here on campus.

“Never feel pressure to drink,” Brossoit said, “But, for those students who choose to, always keep track of consumption, always have a sober driver, and always be with people who you know and trust.”

The UMPD urges students to make a plan before going out, to let friends know where they are going and to keep track of any consumption.

“Be smart, and you can be safe.” Archbald said.,“Take care of yourselves, and the ones you care about.”

Marie MacCune can be reached at [email protected]