I would like to applaud the College for the way it handled the recent shooting hoax. Although I am no longer a college student, e-mails regarding the hoax were forwarded to my new e-mail account from my still-functioning College e-mail. I was happy to see that the College learned something from the Virginia Tech tragedy and treated the hoax like a real emergency.
Despite this however, I have always maintained that the College has much to accomplish in terms of safety. During my four years, I never felt completely safe on campus, so I can sympathize with the townhouse residents whose window alarms don’t work.
My sophomore year, I lived in Allen Hall and a man repeatedly broke into the dorm and eventually got into the room across the hall from mine. There was evidence that he was gaining access to the dorm through the windows of the incredibly frightening ABE basement, but that part of the building has never been secured.
The lock on my door in ABE had a simple sliding mechanism, where if you jiggled the door hard enough the lock would slide off. During the period of time when the man kept breaking in, I repeatedly asked for a new lock. Nothing was done about it, so my roommate and I took to sleeping in friends’ rooms or barricading our door at night with our mini-fridge and microwave.
I must say that this incident played a large role in my decision to move off-campus to a place where I could get a deadbolt. Also during my sophomore year, several women reported being approached by a man in a car while they were jogging the Metzger Drive loop. The man attempted to lure the jogging women into his car with a Tiffany’s box. He was never caught. Because of this, I once requested an escort from the police to walk me from the business building to my dorm room. After waiting over 45 minutes, I decided to cancel the escort and take my chances.
Several other people have reported the same problem. Inmates at the Trenton Psychiatric Facility escape with such frequency that there is a Facebook group devoted to the subject. Last year, a gang war erupted in Trenton and the most protection students received was an e-mail telling us not to venture into the city. This summer, a gang drive-by took place on Theresa St. in Ewing. A person with “gang affiliations” made this shooting hoax.
As a law student living in Camden now, I must say that I feel safer at Rutgers University than I ever did at the College. Trenton might not be as dangerous as Camden, but at least Rutgers recognizes the threat and takes precautions, whereas the College seems to have its head in the sand about where the campus is located.
At Rutgers, the police rove the campus on constant basis. The dorms have a 24-hour security desk. You have to show your school ID to gain access to the academic buildings. The guest sign-in process is computerized.
I would just like to remind everyone that I’m talking about a state school that faces the same budgetary problems as the College. The College needs to recognize the fact that while the campus is not located in Trenton, it’s awfully close and there are dangers that will eventually find their way to the campus.
How about instead of having the police set up speed traps on Metzger Drive, they respond promptly to escort requests? How about instead of sending two or three police cars to handle a simple speeding ticket, the extraneous police rove the campus? Why don’t we stop spending money on multicolored plates for Eickhoff Hall and make sure the campus is well lit (which it isn’t in many places where construction is taking place)?
Again, while the College handled this shooting hoax extremely well (so well in fact that even a former student was kept abreast of the details), additional security measures need to be taken. The 24-hour swipe system was long overdue. Students shouldn’t be responsible for security detail at the hall desks. Actual security guards should be doing that. Trenton is just a few minutes down the road and one day, the gang violence will hit too close to home. I don’t think my alma mater is prepared for that situation.