4 Ways to Reduce Crime on College Campuses

Here are just some steps that can be taken to both reduce crime and make students feel more safe while exploring campus.

4 Ways to Reduce Crime on College Campuses

Photo: Milan Noga reco, Adobe Stock

Note: The views expressed by guest bloggers and contributors are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, Campus Safety.

College campuses can be a hotbed of crime. Leading causes include but are not limited to stalking, drug abuse, assault, robbery, and driving under the influence.

Stalking? That’s right. For all the opportunities that college campuses create, they also have a problem. Tens of thousands of kids are on their own for the first time. They are trying on adult relationships, adult habits (drinking, the occasional drug experimentation, etc.), and they don’t necessarily know how to handle either.

It’s not an excuse for crime but it is a formula for it. Take a bunch of people with the bodies of adults and the minds of children, and essentially give them their own town, and chaos will predictably ensue. In this article, we talk about ways to reduce crime to make campus life both safer and more accessible for everyone.

The Situation

College campuses are more dangerous than many people think when they send their children away. There’s the binge drinking and drug experimentation that college campuses are known for, sure. And these things can cause public safety problems. DUIs, overdoses, and alcohol poisoning are all common features of campus life, creating risk not just for the drinker, but everyone around them as well.

Unfortunately, the situation doesn’t begin and end there. College campuses are also frequent locations for violent or theft-related crimes. Fights take place. Sexual assaults happen frequently. Dorm rooms get broken into. People get robbed.

It makes sense when you think about it. Colleges can easily be the size of a town. Sometimes, a rather big town. And like any sizeable collection of people, there will always be those that just want to go about their routine peacefully and bad actors.

With the right choices, it is possible to make college campuses safer and more accessible for everyone.

Better Lighting

Lighting is a straightforward but effective way to make campuses safer for students. Nightlife is big at most universities. On the weekends, it’s not uncommon for students to stay out until approximately the time their parents are getting up in the morning.

It does no one any good to have these intoxicated little darlings tripping around in the darkness. Poor lighting makes it easier for crime to take place because it reduces visibility, but it also makes campus life feel less safe.

It makes the campus less safe, and it makes the campus feel less safe?

Does that sound convoluted? There is a difference. You can’t exactly quantify through stats what crimes don’t take place because of enhanced lighting, but you can examine the way campus life feels for students. Think about it. You are a nineteen-year-old girl living on your own for the first time. You’re a responsible sort of person, not interested in drinking so much that your breath could peel paint. But you do want to go out and have a nice time with your friends on the weekend.

You step out of your dorm on Friday night and you are met by a wall of darkness….

A well-lit campus makes it easier for individuals to feel comfortable walking around at night, allowing everyone to safely enjoy their school’s social opportunities.

Increased Campus Security

Increasing campus security personnel is one of the most straightforward ways to reduce criminal events on campus. A college can have over forty thousand students around at any given time. And that’s before you factor in guests, town people, staff, etc. Pool it all together and you have a population that is the size of a small city. It takes a significant number of law enforcement officers to keep them all safe.

It’s also worthwhile to keep in mind that campus security has duties that extend beyond the scope of traditional law enforcement. On many campuses, students can call the public safety office to get an escort back to their dorm late at night, or to arrange a safe ride if they’ve had too much to drink.

Public safety is about much more than just punishing people for doing bad things. At its core, it is about finding and eliminating dangerous situations.

More Cameras

Very Orwellian, the students will say as they pass the cameras by. College students love slipping words they just learned into conversation. And they may be right. Surveillance states aren’t what anyone would call ideal, but the fact remains that cameras serve as strong tools both for law enforcement and crime deterrence.

It’s a pretty simple equation, really. If someone knows they are on camera, they aren’t going to want to commit a crime. If they do it anyway, the footage will make it much easier for police to identify and deal with the person responsible.

Control Access

The lock and key system for dorm room access have long been a thing of the past for many college campuses. Schools all over the country are continuing to opt for digital verification systems. Students carry around IDs that act a little like hotel room keys, allowing them to scan into wherever they need to go.

How is a card key better than a regular key? A fair question. A door is being opened, and who really cares how the job got done? Verification cards add an enhanced layer of security because they allow campus law enforcement to see who is coming and going from a building.

Very —

Orwellian. Right, we know. But it also has a deterrent effect. If you intended to do something bad somewhere, you wouldn’t want to sign in first, right?

Granted, there are imperfections within the system. The keyguard does only provide access to authorized individuals, but that won’t stop people from holding the door open to let others in. Or just propping the door open in the afternoon because the key-card situation is actually something of a hassle.

Like any security measure, it’s only what you make of it.

Sarah Daren has been a consultant for startups in multiple industries including health and wellness, wearable technology, nursing, and education.

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