Safety policies need freshening

by Anthony Berteaux and Courtney White

Each year, incoming students have many initial perceptions about the institution they are about to become a part of.

San Diego State is often associated with having a beautiful campus, an infamous reputation for being a party school for most of its past, a fairly recent revamped academic stature and a generally fun and exciting place to get a college eduation.

Many incoming students are not familiar with how unsafe students can feel when the sun sets and they may not have the education to remain safe and informed.

The first few weeks of the fall semester are filled with late-night activities and community gatherings facilitated by university-organized events, such as Aztec Nights. These are meant to promote community on campus, which is all fine and good, but unless the resident advisers also pass along useful knowledge about the safe and unsafe whereabouts of campus, freshmen are left in the dark ­— literally.

It only makes sense that one of these introductory nights to SDSU should include a scheduled information session or method of providing safety education to incoming students — especially with the rate of crime reports in the past semester.

In 2012, Business Insider ranked SDSU as the sixth most dangerous campus in the U.S. citing an average of 27 violent crimes and 575 property crimes per year. The relevance of this ranking still stands today.

During 2014, 17 sexual assaults, multiple attempted robberies and a more recent kidnapping attempt, molded an image of SDSU that so radically divorced from the picturesque caricature that many incoming students associate with the campus.

Sure all the crime alerts sent out are also accessible online, but is it enough to trust recent high-school graduates to actively search for this type of information?

Failing to actively provide incoming freshmen with safety education is not only concerning, but it poses a potential risk. Hospitality, tourism and recreation sophomore Ysenia Sanchez can relate.

“Before coming to SDSU, I thought that it would be relatively safe campus because of all of the emphasis they placed on the campus police and all of the emergency stations and light poles they have all around campus,” Sanchez said. “After being a student here for almost two years, I can say that I am personally scared to walk alone on campus when it starts to get dark.”

Sanchez provides a valid perspective and illustrates the reality of this problem among the larger student body.

While efforts are made during freshman orientation to inform about resources on campus, it’s often done in passing with a tremendous amount of miscellaneous information thrown in there.

Many freshman are left in the dark regarding the scope of criminal activity on campus and real strategies that can be used to avoid unsafe scenarios.

SDSU has every right to make the campus sound appealing to prospective students, but once admitted there is a responsibility in educating new students about the culture of crime and violence.

Throughout the spring semester, there has been a deafening lack of crime alerts. After  a fall semester full of crime alerts concerning multiple phone thefts, robberies, burglaries and sexual assaults, it would appear things have settled down this semester. However, it doesn’t seem that the lack of alerts has settled the anxiety of some students.

“I’ve started to notice that not every student receives a crime alert every time a crime is committed on our campus,” Sanchez said. “It also worried me that in every crime alerts the suspect is hardly ever caught.”

In the most recent case of an armed kidnapping, it’s hard to believe that such an event did not warrant a crime alert to all of the student body.

The police department has strict guidelines behind the administration of crime alerts. Mainly, alerts are sent out when the police feel there is an ongoing threat.

However, some may question whether extreme circumstances, such as a kidnapping, warrant an exception to the rule, even if the police do not rule it as an ongoing threat.

Students, both current and incoming, should always be fully aware and educated about campus safety, or the lack thereof. To alleviate this issue in communication, the scope of crime on campus needs to be further addressed at freshman orientation, rather than mentioned in a passing statement.

This information isn’t intended to scare incoming students, but to potentially aid in  to crime prevention.

Crime on campus is a real threat to student livelihood and when students come to campus unaware of ways to combat this reality, and students must be aware of this reality in order to prevent any unsafe situations.