Students discuss on-campus safety

Do on-campus residents feel safe? Students spoke out about their fear, and in some cases, lack there of, about life in the dorms.

Cassi Stephenson, a freshman residing in Estill Hall, doesn’t seem sure of her safety at her dorm.

Stephenson said one evening, the University Police Department came to Estill Hall for reasons unknown to the residents, and immediately afterward a meeting between resident assistants and residents was held.

She said four men had been seen roaming around the dormitory and other parts of the campus.

According to Stephenson, at the meeting the residents were told the men seen were not students at SHSU, and were said to have police records.

Stephenson said the RAs at the meeting told Estill residents that nothing had happened to anyone.

“They (also) told us to lock our doors and don’t walk around by ourselves,” Stephenson said. “The RAs are always trying to stay in touch with all of the girls on their floor.”

“I’m scared to go out by myself,” Estill Hall resident Shannon Neath said.

Neath said the meeting about the four strange men in their hall made her question her safety more than she had prior to the incident.

“It scared me more than before,” she said.

Neath said she now takes precautions such as locking her door at all times, and answering her door only if she knows who it is.

“We’re a lot more cautious than we were before,” Neath said.

According to Estill Hall resident Ceri Mackenzie, there are “wanted” posters all along the dormitory walls. She answered a flat, “no,” when asked if she feels safe in her dorm.

“Anybody could come into those dorms,” Mackenzie said. “Every time I walk by the office, no one is there. They should have someone in the office at all times.”

Stephenson and Neath said students at Estill are also concerned about the stairwells in the building. They said that if a resident were in trouble, no one would hear or see them in the darkness of the stairwell area.

While some are nervous about campus safety, not all students are scared to continue living in the dorms.

“I feel absolutely safe,” said Mike Charlton, a resident assistant at Smith Hall. “There’s nothing that makes me feel threatened about the dorms.”

Charlton said residence hall security is present at the dormitory after 10 p.m. or 11 p.m., depending on what day of the week it is. He said checking student’s I.Ds also carefully monitors traffic flow in and out of the building. He said residents in Smith Hall feel safe.

Other universities in Texas and nationwide have methods of keeping dorms safe. At Southwest Texas State University, dormitory doors lock in the evening and are only accessible by swiping a student I.D. RAs are present at the front desk of each dormitory from morning until night, times depending on what day of the week it is.

Residence Life faculty and staff, the University Police Department, and RAs from Estill, Kirkley and Belvin declined to comment.

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