Editorial: UT cares about students’ safety

Editorial Board

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During the Fall 2016 semester, there were three sexual assaults reported at University of Toledo. Earlier this month, within a single weekend, three rapes were reported at Ohio University.

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, one in five women are sexually assaulted while in college.

These sobering statistics have led us at the Independent Collegian to find out what the University of Toledo is doing to ensure student safety on campus and whether or not it is enough.

We aren’t naïve enough to believe that victims of sexual assault are typically assaulted by strangers. In fact, according to the NSVRC, in 8 out of 10 rape cases, the victim knew the perpetrator.

So what is UT doing to prevent sexual assault amongst students and acquaintances? Perhaps the first step begins in orientation class where new students are educated about what constitutes sexual assault.

UT requires incoming freshmen to complete a sexual assault education course called Haven. Many professors also require their students to attend presentations aimed at preventing sexual assault. While some professors go above and beyond to dedicate two or three full classes to educate students about sexual assault, other professors would rather teach students only about proper study methods.

While these presentations are incredibly informative, they alone are not enough. All orientation classes should cover sexual assault because it is such a prevalent issue on college campuses, including our own. We understand that sexual assault can be uncomfortable for some people to talk about, but that’s not a good enough excuse to avoid the topic.

Another safety measure at UT are the blue emergency phones located across UT’s campuses. There are 120 of them. By activating one of these phones, the campus police are immediately contacted and aware of the caller’s location.

Even with no words spoken, campus police are supposed to respond to these calls. Rumors abound on campus about whether these blue towers are even functional. Naturally skeptical as most journalists are, we decided to test the claim by using the phones ourselves. To our pleasant surprise, our call was immediately answered and we were connected with the authorities.

Students can use these emergency calls not only to report an assault but also to report a suspicious person or circumstance on campus.

Another service available to ensure student safety is the university night watch, which serves as an escort service for anyone walking alone on campus during the evening hours.

By calling 419-530-3024, a two-person team equipped with radios allowing them to be in constant contact with dispatchers will escort any student from building-to-building or campus-to-campus.

Though night watch is valuable service, the limited hours of contacting Night Watch are a concern. Night watch is available on Monday through Thursday from 7:30 p.m.-2:30 a.m. and Sunday from 10 p.m.-3 a.m. but only from 8:00 p.m.-12 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

According to NSVRC, sexual assaults are most likely to occur on Friday and Saturday between the hours of midnight and 6:00 a.m.—when UT night watch is off duty.

Also, night watch is a student job. They have to be cleared by campus police before being offered employment. They must also pass a background check.

The NSVRC states that students living in sorority houses and dorms are more likely to experience sexual assault than students living off campus. So what is being done to prevent sexual assault in dorms at UT?

A good start to preventing sexual assault is the required card access to enter residence halls. All visitors to the dorms must also register at the information desk. But, as students, we know that this is not often the case. Students don’t check their friends in; some even give them their Rocket card to access the building.

Many dorms combat this lapse in student security by installing security cameras in stairwells. All dorms also have a 24-hour information desk with a panic button, and RAs must complete nighttime rounds. Self-defense demonstrations are also provided by professional staff for on campus students.

Clearly, UT does care about student safety. They send alerts and emails when sexual assault is reported, campus police are readily available for emergencies and extensive services are provided for victims.

As students, we just want to make sure that UT is doing all that they can to lower the sexual assault on campus statistics. By watching out for each other, we can all fight off danger.

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Editorial: UT cares about students’ safety