By Caitlyn Thompson
How safe do students feel at Assumption College? After speaking with several students who wished to remain anonymous during the past two weeks, it would appear as though Assumption students feel relatively safe. They feel confident in Campus Police’s ability to handle threatening situations on campus, but still remain on guard as they go about their semester.
It is not surprising that many Assumption students keep some worry in the back of their minds about danger on campus, especially in light of recent national events. Just last month, a gunman opened fire at Umpqua Community College in Oregon, killing eight students and one faculty member, and injuring eight others. Since 2010, there have been 40 shootings on college campuses, with five of these instances being mass casualty events.
“I think shootings would be the biggest safety threat,” one student vocalized. “We don’t have bag checks or anything so someone could bring a gun in without anyone knowing and a shooting can occur. You just never know.”
Another student agreed that it would be easy for an outsider to cause trouble on campus, “If someone with malice intended to come on campus and cause harm, it would not be difficult to do so. So I guess an outside source looking for trouble is the biggest threat.”
If students were asked about their fear of campus shootings twenty years ago, there would surely be different responses. The media has done an infamous job of sensationalizing these instances to the point that it is infiltrating the worries of college students nationwide.
Assumption Students feel confident, especially following the handling of last year’s bomb threat, that Campus Police could efficiently handle a mass event. Campus Police utilizes the RAVE alert system, which sends texts, emails, and even calls students in the case of an emergency. Assumption also has a PA system through which alerts can be broadcast and heard in almost every part of campus. If a shooting were to ever occur on campus, a majority of students feel they would be in good hands.
While respondents acknowledged their fears of a shooting occurring at Assumption, a majority recognized assault as posing the biggest threat to students on campus. According to the Annual Security and Fire Safety Report published by the Assumption College Campus Police Department last month, assault, both sexual and non-sexual, are among the most frequent criminal offenses that occur on campus.
As the report shows, sexual assault occurs more frequently on Assumption’s campus than aggravated assault. According a report published in September 2015 by the Association of American Universities, 1 in 4 female undergraduates report they have been victim to a sexual assault on campus. Women are not alone, however, as 1 in 11 male undergraduates also report they been victimized. On average, nearly half of all sexual assaults are associated with the use of alcohol or other substances.
One senior agreed that the biggest factor in instance of sexual assault is alcohol. “Alcohol making people more belligerent and aggressive, or blurring judgement lines is the biggest problem Assumption should take into consideration. Because many cases may not seem like assault when it is happening or are not remembered by the parties involved, these instances are difficult for the school to target.”
If assault is so hard for Campus Police to target, what improvements can be made in hopes of lowering its occurrence at Assumption? A female student believes she has a solution. “All students need to be aware of what defines assault and the role that alcohol can play. Students need to have the mindset not to engage in assault behavior rather than have the school force a crazy number of rules on them to try to force them to behave a certain way.”
While Assumption does mandate training about assault through AlcoholEdu, a program all incoming freshman must complete, this comprehensive education ceases following orientation. Assumption does offer materials and lectures about assault and other threatening situations on campus, but it is up to upperclassmen to seek these resources on their own accord. One male upperclassman strongly believes that Assumption should institute some mandated education at least once a year for each grade not only to reinforce information, but to hopefully prevent occurrences.
Students also had more suggestions for Assumption College that would heighten their feeling of security on campus. Adding more lighting to darker areas of campus was among the top suggestions, along with additional security cameras and blue call boxes.
“After being on other college campuses and talking to my friends,” one student explained, “the emergency boxes are much more prevalent at other schools. A good guide for it should be if you are standing at one blue light, you should be able to see two more from where you are standing. Not once have I been able to see two blue lights, let alone one. I think this could help prevent a number of incidences on campus and help students feel more secure.”
What else can Assumption College do to help students feel safer on campus? Voice your opinion: