Students reminded to be aware on campus
Jessica Guerrucci – Managing Editor
In any crime, Chief of Police Joseph Dooley said, there are two basic elements — opportunity and desire — and while he said buildings on campus are safe, when valuables are left unattended and doors are left propped open, an opportunity is created.
“The only thing we can take away is the opportunity,” said Dooley. In one of the busiest buildings on campus, the Adanti Student Center, hundreds of students flow in and out each day. Backpacks and laptops can be seen left at tables unattended and club doors are sometimes propped open with no one in the room.
Eric Simms, associate director of the student center, said more than two thefts in the building a semester is “a lot,” but not everyone is honest, so students cannot be leaving valuables unwatched. Currently, Simms said there are security parameters that exist within the building, including security cameras, doors that require HootLoot cards to swipe in and security checks done by building managers during evening hours. While the security cameras throughout the building are not proactively watched, Dooley said they help after the fact if a security issue arises. In some cases, he said the visibility of the camera is enough to deter someone from committing a crime.
“In particular, there was a recent theft and we’re investigating it, and we have some very good leads because of the technology in the building,” said Dooley.
The case, involves a camera being taken from an office in the radio station WSIN. Dooley said the police have very good images from the security camera, but the investigation is still ongoing. The person who took the camera, however, Dooley said, is not connected to campus and is known for coming into open buildings and walking around looking for opportunities. As the student center is a public building, Dooley said there is no one way to regulate who is coming in and out, but students should always be alert and on the lookout. Any suspicious activity, he said, can also be reported to the police through the Livesafe app.
“Fortunately, [thefts] are few and far between,” said Dooley, “but when something does happen, it just kind of reminds everyone to keep an eye out.”
Social work major Nyasia Lewis, a junior, said she feels safe in the student center and that she can leave her belongings there without feeling like someone would come and take it. On a few occasions, however, she said she will ask someone to watch her valuables.
“I’ve asked people before, ‘Hey, can you watch this?’ while I’m in line getting a sandwich or something,” said Lewis. “It’s not their responsibility but I feel like they will help you.”
Despite feeling safe, Lewis said the idea that anyone can come in and out of the building worries her but she also understands that Southern is not a private campus. On the other hand, journalism major Aidan Croke, a sophomore, said despite the fact that he feels safe in the student center, but he would never feel comfortable leaving his bag out unattended.
“I’m not sure how likely it would be that my stuff would get stolen, but I just feel like it is not worth the risk to leave it out,” said Croke.
For club spaces, such as the Student Government Association, its secretary Sam Widomski said they have their own general set of policies to make sure no one who does not have access is coming in the room.
“Our Organization space, we generally have that if no one is in here the door is closed and we have a key card to get into our space,” said Widomski. “So, most of the time we make sure one of our friends is in here to watch our stuff, but we’ve never really had a problem with people taking things.”
Generally, Widomski said the door will always be shut if no one is in the room, but at the beginning of the semester some representatives would leave the door open on accident, but it is not usually a problem. SGA Representative at Large Krista Jones said the thought of someone who is not a student coming into the building does not bother her because Southern welcomes people onto its campus.
“I don’t see any issue with it,” said Jones, “especially if you’re being smart with your belongings.”
For clubs specifically, Simms said students should not leave the door propped open. “All of a sudden you’re running down to the cafeteria because you forgot your Hoot Loot card or someone let you in and now that person is gone and you’re afraid to close the door,” said Simms.
“But now you’re giving free access to anybody who walks by and it takes a matter of seconds.”
Though there are security measures put in place on every building on campus, Simms said there will always be blind spots. He said usually people will be very honest, but there is always that small percentage that is not.
“You just have to be aware of your surroundings and where you leave your stuff,” said Simms. “I always use the comparison, when you leave your house in the morning, you don’t leave your door wide open. Simple as that.”
Photo Credit: Jessica Guerrucci