Students want colleges to invest in campus safety and security. Higher education must create a welcoming and safe environment, whether that means lit paths, blue stickers on lamp posts or self-defense courses. An effective campus safety strategy requires meticulously crafted emergency plans and regular drills. These plans will include everything from natural disasters to active threats.
More Security Cameras
After the routine news of school shootings in recent years, many districts have responded by opening their budgets or chasing government grants for state-of-the-art security technology, often on the principle that more is better. The latest tools include everything from instant visitor background checks to social media monitoring software and gunshot detection sensors, all driving the billion-dollar school security industry.
Putting a price tag on prevention has always been difficult. Still, with the right system, schools can show exactly how their campus safety expenditures are helping to prevent crime, lawsuits, and damage to their reputation that could lead to lower enrollment. Getting that data also makes it easier to justify budget requests and ensure that spending money is used wisely.
When asked what they would prioritize in additional funds for campus security, students were most drawn to indirect efforts to minimize student harm, including expanding mental health supports to prevent incidents, improving lighting on sidewalks, and increasing safe and affordable transportation options. Adding security cameras for schools is another easy way to increase campus safety.
The safety of students remains a non-negotiable priority, especially with recent high-profile incidents. Fortunately, there are many ways that campus safety and security teams can help make the college experience more secure for everyone involved. For instance, providing more escorts for campus tours, increasing the number of surveillance cameras and adding emergency blue-light boxes are all ways to help current and prospective students feel safer on campus. But if an institution has to choose between these and other measures, it’s a good idea to weigh the value of each in terms of cost-effectiveness and effectiveness as measured against crime prevention.
It’s also important to ensure that all campus safety team members have the tools they need to perform their jobs effectively, including having access to timely and accurate data. Administrative tasks such as reporting, tracking, filing citations, and scheduling can be automated using software. It frees up valuable time that can be better spent enhancing campus safety. It can also enable departments to quickly identify trends and patterns in campus crime that could indicate a potential threat.
Colleges often feel like they’re always on edge, and students constantly look for ways to make themselves safer. While it can’t prevent all crimes, a well-lit campus helps deter criminal activity and gives students the peace of mind to navigate their surroundings safely. Some universities are even taking it further by investing in better lighting. More than a third of Student Voice survey respondents want improved lighting on sidewalks and walkways. This investment would help students feel more safe walking across campus at night. It is an investment that could be made in tandem with other safety efforts, such as ensuring that students have access to a car, reducing instances of hazing and increasing mental health support. Some colleges have already taken this approach, introducing a “safety-as-a-service” model.
More Security Officers
In a time when school shootings are more common than not, it makes sense for colleges and universities to invest in more security officers. This way, students can feel safe going to classes and getting work done without worrying about a shooting. In addition, more security guards can help deter vandalism, illegal trespassing and other crimes on campus. Plus, when students see security guards regularly, they’ll have a more positive perception of these authorities — something many kids lack in their interactions with local police.
Besides boosting student safety, more security officers can also help colleges meet Clery Act requirements and keep up with trends in crime on their campuses. It can include implementing a system to quickly lock down parts of a building during an active shooter situation. The bottom line is that creating a safe college environment should always be the primary goal for any campus safety department.
More Safety Training
The federal Jeanne Clery Act was passed in 1990 to help protect students by requiring colleges to report crime statistics and establish campus safety standards. It also encourages schools to develop plans for natural disasters, cyber-physical attacks, and active shooters. While college enrollment decisions often consider various factors, campus safety and security continue to influence student choices. In Student Voice’s recent survey, they are expanding mental health support to prevent incidents ranked as the most important safety investment students want to see. Other top responses included improving lighting on sidewalks and developing safe and affordable transportation options.
Keeping a university’s students safe is challenging because of its size and its interconnectedness, but there are many steps campuses can take to improve safety. For example, students can learn more about safety procedures by ensuring they are familiar with their school’s published policies and looking for their surroundings, especially in areas where security personnel may be visible. It can help students stay calm and respond appropriately in negative situations.