Campus safety is a community concern

Laura Rojas, Writer

The issue of campus safety affects the entire NEIU community. An example of an incident that occurred at a college campus was Ohio State University in November 2016.

WBNS 10, a news television station from Columbus, Ohio, reported that Abdul Razak Ali Artan was the suspect identified in the incident regarding 11 pedestrians, composed of students, faculty and staff of the university, that were run over then attacked with a butcher knife.

One out of the 11 injured in the attack sustained critical injuries. Artan was subsequently shot and killed by the responding officer, Alan Horujko.

“That type of stuff creeps me out; that people like that are out there. But at the same time I trust that police officers will do their job,” said Madiha Malik, an NEIU freshman and secondary education major.

Chicago is known for its high crime rate and the university campus neighborhood is not exempt from experiencing it.

According to Lt. John Schulz of the NEIU Police, there were two robberies that took place at the 7-Eleven on Bryn Mawr. One robbery was a month ago and the other a few months prior. He encourages that students sign up with N-Safe alerts so that they are aware of such situations.  

Besides N-Safe, NEIU’s campus police have also recently come out with an additional tool for students to use, an app called 911Shield also known as N-Shield.

N-Shield can be used to immediately connect a student, staff or faculty member to campus police rather than through a 911 dispatch center. The app also has a feature that allows NEIU police the possibility to trace the user’s location in case of  emergency.

“It provides a geo-fence, which is a sort of data fence that maps out the area and everybody within that area,” Schulz said. “If something were to happen, let’s say a medical emergency— you’ve fallen and the only thing you have is your phone nearby, you use the app and it will gives us the exact location you’re at.”

Schulz also mentioned that the app has the feature to send incident reports or report suspicious activity —with the option to include a photo— directly to NEIU police without having to visit the office.  

Besides the N-Shield app there are other conventional ways some students have employed safety precautions, like carrying pepper spray.

“My brother bought me (pepper spray) as soon as I came into college — he’s like, ‘This is your birthday present.’ I’m like oh great,” Malik said. “I always keep it in my bag.”

Malik stated that what she does most to ensure her safety is to stay in well lit and crowded areas when she’s at the university during evening hours.

Steven Cristi, an NEIU senior and secondary education major said he feels the NEIU community is secure but the neighboring communities might pose more of a safety issue to students.

Cristi said that he never feels uncomfortable when getting out of his evening class because of all the other students around.

“A lot of other people are going to their cars, too, and yeah, I’m never worried about getting to my car,” he said.

And in case of a mugging he said, “After hopefully the suspect goes off or whatever and I go off unharmed, I would contact the university police.”

Cristi also said in such situation he that wouldn’t try to engage the attacker with any weapon or pepper spray.

“I wouldn’t want to cause any trouble — I won’t try and be a hero — I think it would be the wisest decision to go away unharmed,” he said.  

Another method students can take to feel safe involves an alternative to pepper spray.

According to Jill Turner, public relations director of ROBOCOPP USA, there have been a few incidences and studies the company has conducted regarding personal safety, where in some situations pepper spray had been either used against the victim or the victim accidentally used it on themself.

ROBOCOPP USA is the creator of the Sound Grenade. The Sound Grenade is a small device that emits a 120 decibel alarm to scare off possible assailants.

“The whole point of the sound grenade is to prevent an attack rather than engage in one,” Turner said.

The concept of the Sound Grenade was developed by CEO, Sam Mansen. Its development began in 2010 and the final product was officially released in July 2015.

Turner gave some history behind the concept of the Sound Grenade. “Mansen was looking for something to make his younger sister safer on her college campus — they didn’t want to use pepper spray because it — number one — requires you to confront an attacker,” Turner said.  

Turner also noted that the sound grenade can be activated from a safe distance. “It’s been an incredibly effective crime deterrent,” she said.

“One study by the International Institute of Criminology found that 68 percent of criminals will flee a crime scene completely empty handed as soon as an alarm is heard,” Turner said in an email.

Lt. Schultz also reassured students that their safety is a top priority at NEIU.

“We’re always out there every day patrolling— we’re there around the clock 24 hours a day even when the campus might be closed there are still officers that are on campus,” he said.