Students deserve to feel safe

As Fresno State students, we are no strangers to crime alerts flooding our emails and receiving texts regarding attempted burglary, aggravated assault or a serial groper.

Not only are we notified of the crime, but we are given a laundry list of safety tips to take note of: be aware of your surroundings, don’t walk alone at night, stay in well-lit areas, use the emergency blue light phones.

Are those tips – which we have been told our entire lives – realistic?

No matter the circumstances, we should always be aware of our surroundings, but being aware won’t stop the person walking behind from grabbing and assaulting the one that happens to be walking in front of them.

The responsibility of campus safety falls upon two large and powerful parties: Fresno State Administration and Fresno City Hall.

To ensure positive change and decrease crime in and around campus, students should be offered more than repetitive safety alerts stating the obvious.

As college students, we are all busy with crazy schedules that differ from our friends and roommates, so we are inevitably forced to walk alone. Some of those times happen to be at night. Unavoidable things like late-running night classes and on-campus jobs make students more vulnerable by walking in and around campus after dark.

Because of situations that leave students more susceptible to danger, the campus police department needs a more visible presence than ever. However, there are some ways campus officials, the police department, and even Fresno City Hall are responsible for crime in and around the perimeters of campus. Though the university sends safety alerts with the best of intentions, there is no ideal way to avoid assault or theft.

When a safety alert is issued, students are instructed to do the same five or six different things to increase our on-campus safety awareness. A few of those things include being aware of our surroundings, using the blue emergency safety lights, and calling 911. Two of those three things, one previously mandated, have more to do with common sense than they do actual prevention.

In regards to the blue emergency telephones scattered around campus, there are a few problems that come about when the thought of using them in case of emergency arises.

For one, not all students know exactly what happens when someone presses the button on the blue emergency telephones. The telephone connects you with an operator at the campus police department.

In addition, there is zero chance that an emergency telephone will be conveniently located whenever someone chooses to assault or rob you. In the case that a telephone is readily available, there’s little opportunity while being assaulted where a victim could pause the situation and then call campus police. Students are better off calling 911 with their personal cell phones.

In response to police department suggestions to stay in well-lit areas on campus, it could be thought that while there are areas on campus that are heavily populated at all parts of the day and night, there are some more scarce areas that are also poorly lit.

Parts of parking lot 20, located off of Cedar and Barstow avenues near the Industrial Technology building are poorly lit and the lot is adjacent to the vineyards that connect with Bullard Avenue. The farther the parking lot stretches back, the more scarce well-lit areas become. While the campus police department offers security escorts all over campus, even as far as this parking lot, various crimes are still being committed close to this lot, off of Cedar and Barstow avenues.

Annual security reports from the California State University system show that between 2013-2015, Fresno State reported 38 crimes, including rape, robbery and motor vehicle theft. CSU Bakersfield reported 11 combined reported crimes, and Stanislaus State University reported 33. The majority of Fresno State’s reported crimes are those of motor vehicle theft, with Fresno coming in at 30 reported offenses. Of those 30 offenses, 27 were committed on campus.

The case is the same of reported robberies. Four of the eight reported crimes occurred on campus, while the other half occurred on public property on the perimeter of campus.

The numbers offered only pertain to what is being reported to campus police.

If there are that many crimes being reported to on-campus police, it’s fair to expect that many more crimes are happening off-campus in surrounding areas that aren’t reported directly to campus police, but instead, to the Fresno Police Department.

In September of 2016, students and residents of areas surrounding campus were to receive a satellite police station in the El Dorado park area near Bulldog Stadium and Fraternity Row. The police station was promised to increase security and decrease crime and was to be built between one and two months after its initial announcement.

However, after almost five months, the station still does not exist. When asked, District 4 Council Member Paul Caprioglio, who represents the Fresno State area, said City Hall is still looking for a solution.

Newly-elected mayor Lee Brand now carries the responsibility to ensure expanded safety to Fresno State students by establishing the new satellite station as soon as possible.

It’s ridiculous that the station has yet to be built, even with the promise for it to be built with a maximum of two months after its initial announcement.

Crime will only be decreased when Fresno State administrators and those from City Hall come together to enact movements that will provide a campus and a perimeter safe for all. Students deserve more than safety alerts and repetitive emails.

Campus administrators and Fresno City Hall must work together to enact positive change decreasing the climate of crime surrounding our university.

Students, administrators and guests deserve a safer environment. When our campus and surrounding areas are safe, students and staff succeed and create a better, bolder university for all.

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