Panelists share hopes, concerns for safety on campus through discussion forum


Allison Campbell

Alicia Newell explains the use of the Rave Guardian app to a student who asked about how to best report crime or concerns on campus. The app was designed to provide users with extra security through features like the “safety timer”, “Call 9-1-1” and “Call WSU University Police.”

In recognition of the growing national concern regarding crime on college campuses and as part of an effort to provide security transparency to students, several Wichita State faculty members coordinated a discussion forum consisting of seven diverse panelists to share their perspectives for fostering and maintaining security and safety practices on campus. Moderated by WSU Criminal Justice Professor Michael Birzer, the panel shared their unique viewpoints on issues regarding personal safety on campus, strategies for crime prevention and where improvement is needed.

Panelists made comparisons between the level of campus security during their time as students or new faculty members and campus security currently, noting a drastic improvement in prevention, reporting and resources.

“From Lindquist Hall to the RSC, I think at one point in time there was one light. Now, that’s obviously not the case,” Josh Davis, School of Criminal Justice graduate student and former police officer said. “[Campus security has] seen much improvement from when I first started at WSU.”

One of the more prominent struggles in maintaining low crime rates on campus, the panel suggested, is raising student and faculty awareness and minimizing distractions or complacencies that make them more susceptible to campus crime, mostly property crimes from bicycles, unlocked cars and students leaving valuable possessions in open sight.

“My perception of crime on campus is really that most of our crimes are crimes of opportunity.” Vice President of Student Affairs Teri Hall said. “[crime prevention is] mostly the challenge of training ourselves that not everybody is a friend on campus … We need to all just be more watchful.”

The panelists also tackled more complex issues, such as where they see faults in WSU crime prevention and how to provide the needed resources to students who wish to report or are victims of a crime.

“We have individuals on campus who may not feel like they have a voice because they don’t know who to report to, or they have yet to have the courage to report something,” Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs, Assessment and Retention Alicia Newell said. “So if they disclose to you, say ‘Hey, let me help you to connect with people who can help.’”

Panelists and coordinators expressed interest in having recurring safety discussion meetings to keep students, faculty and staff informed and, subsequently, safe from potential crime and safety hazards. Until then, the panelists said they will continue to commit themselves to promoting safety in and around campus and serving students in their times of need.

“I can assure you we’re doing absolutely everything we can to prepare for any kind of incident, whatever that might be,” WSUPD Police Chief Guy Schroeder said. “We’re going to do the right things for the right reasons and make sure that everybody stays safe.”