How safe is SMU? Students weigh in

Three SMU students and a mother of one of the students were reportedly robbed at gunpoint on the 2900 block of SMU Boulevard near Boedeker Street at approximately 2 a.m. Sunday. The suspect is described as a black male with facial hair, about 28 to 30 years old nearing 6 feet tall weighing 180 to 190 pounds.

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While the incident is still being investigated by the police, students and faculty are responding to Sunday morning’s incident and issues surrounding lighting and security on campus.

“I think as a whole, campus is definitely secure and safety is well maintained… but there are definitely some weak spots, say, in front of the George Bush Library or by Perkins or where areas are dark over by the Law School,” said Kirk Presley, membership committee chair for SMU Student Senate. “Once we identify these spots, we need to increase police presence in those areas or improve lighting.”

Lighting around campus has been a longstanding issue for SMU, leaving many students feeling uneasy while walking around campus at night. Even though there are emergency stations positioned around campus, for the most part, students feel long lengths of campus are left unlit.

“Lighting won’t stop someone from robbing at gunpoint… but it could help increase security,” Presley said.

Not only does SMU deal with issues like robbery, but there are many other safety issues that are to be discussed and studied on campus.

In April of this year, there have been a slew of crime-related incidents reported on campus, including four public intoxication arrests, 10 reports of theft, multiple reports of fire alarms being activated, two assaults and one report of sexual assault.

President of SMU’s sexual assault prevention group “Not On My Campus” Elliott Bouillon said more than just lighting needs to be changed to improve campus safety and prevent crimes like sexual assault.

“While I understand that safety is of the upmost importance on a college campus, I believe that bad lighting is not the leading factor of sexual assault on our campus,” Bouillon said. “It is about changing the culture and being advocates for one another.”

Jamie Hinz, SMU senior and external affairs chair of Not On My Campus, agreed with Bouillon’s comments on the issue.

“While lighting is important to overall safety, it is actually not the only way to combat sexual assault,” Hinz said. “Studies show that women specifically are more likely to be assaulted forcibly by a friend in a comfortable setting than attacked by a stranger in a dark alley.”

Safety on campus can be solved with methods and devices other than just lighting. While SMU Senate and faculty work to find such preventative measures, safety tips can be used around campus to help prevent incidents.

Not only are there the well-known self-defense methods, such as pepper spray or mace, but there are also apps and personal safety devices that can aid in personal safety.

ROBOCOPP is one of these new devices, and it works by releasing a 120-decibel siren when activated by a pull-pen. This device, which can be clipped to a backpack or belt loop, emits a loud noise that makes others pay attention and come to help. This device is helpful because, according to a University of Montreal study, 68 percent of bank robbers will run away empty-handed if an alarm is sounded.

Other devices include the app Companion, which allows friends, or companions, of the user to virtually watch him or her walk home with a map of their route. If at any point you feel unsafe, you can alert your companions or the police department with just one tap of a button. Equipped with a Smart Trigger, the app checks in on you during your walk to make sure you are safe, and if you don’t respond, your companions are alerted.

As investigations concerning Sunday’s alleged robber are still underway, reviewing safety procedures can prevent another issue on the SMU campus.

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