Students speak out about recent crimes on campus, safety concerns

Vice President for Student Affairs David Shields speaks during an open forum Oct. 9.

Following the recent string of crimes reported to campus police, safety and security are on the minds of students, as evidenced by social media comments on Facebook and Twitter.

Vice President for Student Affairs David Shields and UNA police Chief Bob Pastula said student safety is at the top of the list of priorities for administrators at UNA.

“Safety and security are a primary concern on our campus,” Shields said during an open forum Oct. 9.

David McCreary, a senior, said he doesn’t feel safe on campus anymore.

“With so many incidents happening, apparently something isn’t right,” McCreary said.

McCreary said he doesn’t know exactly what needs to change.

“Maybe they need to add more patrols; I don’t know,” McCreary said. “I just want to know exactly what’s going on and why no one is fixing it.”

Senior Will Whaley said he went to school in Memphis before transferring to UNA, and he said he’s shocked by the crime here.

“I’ve never seen this kind of crime on campus before,” Whaley said. “I went to school in Memphis and it was never like it is here.”

Whaley said he feels like the university doesn’t have its priorities in order.

“Instead of worrying about parking, they need to be worrying about campus safety,” Whaley said.

Amanda Frazier, a junior, said her fears about safety and security extend beyond the campus.

“I don’t feel safe on campus because they’re not doing anything to implement security measures,” Frazier said. “But it’s not strictly the campus. I don’t feel safe in Florence, period, with everything that’s happened on campus and the inmates escaping recently.”

Arielle Jones, a student living in Rice Hall, said she recently found herself in a situation that tested how safe she feels, even though she lives on campus.

“It was late, and I left my room to go brush my teeth in the (community-style) bathroom,” Jones said. “There were two drunk guys wandering around in the hallways, knocking on people’s doors. They stuck their heads in the bathroom and started talking to me.

“It’s not that they did anything to me, but they were blocking the door, and if I had tried to leave, they might not have let me.”

Kevin Jacques, director of residence life, said it’s important for students to report these types of incidents as soon as possible when they happen.

“I can promise you this — we address situations as soon as we’re notified,” Jacques said. “It’s difficult to respond, though, when it’s not reported. People are quick to put information on Twitter or Facebook, but they don’t report it to the proper people.”

Jones said she doesn’t feel like the residence halls are as secure as they could be because there aren’t cameras anywhere, and once someone gets past the card swipe outside, they’re free to go wherever they want in the building.

“People are doing this stuff on campus because they know they can get away with it and they won’t get caught,” Jones said.

SGA President Will Riley said SGA is currently looking at options to help increase student safety.

“It’s certainly something we want to be a part of,” Riley said. “I’m not real sure how or in what capacity yet, but we’re looking into it.”

Shields and Pastula are both encouraging students to report anything suspicious they see happening on campus.

“The more we know, the better prepared we can be to help,” Shields said.