The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU professor Susanne Scholz in the West Bank in 2018.
SMU professor to return to campus after being trapped in Gaza for 12 years
Sara Hummadi, Video Editor • May 18, 2024

Students worry about safety despite university safeguards

Most of us have seen it before: the lone student stumbling into his or her dorm, joggers taking a midnight run on campus with music blasting in their ears and freshmen finding their way around campus, navigating the new freedoms that come with living away from home.

Unfortunately, these habits could land students in trouble.

They are the behaviors predators and criminals look for to target on university campuses.

SMU is privileged to have its own police department, but safety is still a growing concern for many parents and students.

With the story of college student Lauren Spierer, who went missing from Indiana University last spring, making headlines again, it is a good time to be reminded of the safety precautions that students should take while living and spending time on campus.

Lauren Spierer’s disappearance happened thousands of miles away, but SMU is no stranger to uninvited guests roaming the campus.

In November 2010, students received an email from the SMU Police Department warning that a man using the name “Dean Kelly” was coercing students to pose naked by pretending to be an MTV producer looking for models.

Although “Dean Kelly” was eventually found and arrested in New Orleans, a recent incident with Eric Tacker, also known as “SMU Fryguy,” prompted SMU to issue a criminal trespass warning at the start of the 2011 school year.

“The University received complaints that he repeatedly attended campus events to which he was not invited,” a statement from SMU said.

Unfortunately, with an open campus, predators and intruders are able to make their way onto the property, as they look to violate students and breach the security measures that have been put in place.

According to SMU Police Department’s Lt. Enrique Jemmott, women are typically targeted on campuses and are “perceived in certain places as the weaker sex.”

However, just because women are typically targeted, doesn’t mean they can’t fight back.

With his two daughters in mind, Jemmott brought the Sexual Harassment Assault and Rape Prevention (SHARP) program to SMU nine years ago. He leads weekly self-defense classes, which are taught strictly to women, once a week in Dedman Center for Lifetime Sports.

“[The classes] empower women,” Jemmott said. “It doesn’t just give them the physical ability, but it gives women the mental ability as well to defend themselves. It’s all about defending yourself to escape an attacker; where to hit, how to hit, and then how to quickly escape.”

While the self-defense courses are a great way for students to learn how to defend themselves, Jemmott points out that the most important thing students can do is to be aware of their surroundings.

For students who favor late-night jogs with headphones on, Jemmott suggests keeping at least one of the headphones out.

“If you can snap your fingers and hear it, then you’re OK,” he said.

In addition to the SHARP program, SMU also provides several services to help maintain safety on campus.

Park ‘N Pony offers Giddy-Up, a campus security escort service that gives free rides to students around campus Monday through Sunday from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m.

Freshman Meredith Carey is a fan of Giddy-Up and says she uses it regularly to travel safely around campus.

When not driving students around, Giddy-Up is deployed around campus to help enhance security.

Park ‘N Pony also offers SMU Rides, a program through Executive Cab that drives students back to campus for free

Thursday through Saturday from 10:30 p.m. to 3 a.m.

Additionally, the SMU Police Department will escort students around campus who feel unsafe or in danger.

“We’d rather take you back and forth than to take a report of you being hurt, injured or assaulted,” Jemmott said.

Jemmott advises students to be aware of their surroundings at all times, practice safety in numbers by traveling in groups and get to know their police department on campus.

“Those are the people that are really going to help you,” Jemmott said.

Although great security measures are in place at SMU, some students still feel there are additional tools that the police department can implement.

Freshman Natalie Yezbick said a better warning system when there is suspicious activity on campus would be helpful.

“I feel like having a better text alert system would be good, as most students check their phones often,” Yezbick said.

If you ever feel in danger on campus or need emergency assistance immediately, contact the SMU Police Department at 214-768-3333.

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