Campus attacks prompt awareness, compliance

TEMP ORARY November 17, 2011 0

Recent attacks of a sexual nature on female students here at Elizabethtown College have the student body questioning the conditions of campus safety. This uncertainty prompted a public Student Senate “town hall meeting”-style forum, and the organization of the event “Take Back the Night” led by the Rose Garden Student-Directed Learning Community (SDLC).

With the EC Alert system notifying students of these emergency situations by email and text message, the awareness of on-campus violence has undoubtedly increased. At the Senate forum, Assistant Director of Campus Security Dale Boyer explained that students are hearing about these incidents so often through EC Alerts because there must be a “timely warning” issued through the campus alert system whenever student safety is compromised. According to Boyer, this serves two main purposes: to “alert students to where the incident occurred” and “to remind the campus community of safety procedures.”

These alerts come to students at the College because of a 2010 amendment to the Crime Awareness and Campus Security Act of 1990 (later renamed the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act in 1998). The amendment calls for, according to the official Department of Education handbook, “emergency notification upon the confirmation of a significant emergency or dangerous situation involving an immediate threat to the health or safety of students or employees occurring on the campus,” and “timely warning for any Clery Act crime that represents an ongoing threat to the safety of students or employees.” Clery Act crimes include any sexual offense, criminal homicide, aggravated assault, burglary, arson or hate crime that takes place on or within the property of a college campus.

According to Boyer, “We have been doing a better job in notifying the campus community of ongoing situations.” Because the College has been using the EC Alerts system to issue warnings, Campus Security has been in sufficient compliance with the Clery Act.

The College administration has also been taking steps to further improve the conditions of campus safety. At the Senate forum, Dean of Students Marienne Calenda passed out a draft of projected and current safety measures that are being enacted or considered by the administration. This included a new campaign, which has been given the working title of “I’ll Walk With You.” The drafted description of the program details that it aims to “raise the awareness within the College community [of] the dangers of walking alone after dark, give students the tools they need to protect themselves,” and to “encourage the involvement of everyone on campus to look out for one another.”

The Take Back the Night event will begin at 9 p.m. on Nov. 18. Students, faculty and community members will walk around the perimeter of the campus to raise awareness of unsafe lighting in certain areas. The event allows students to figuratively stand up to those who have committed violent acts on the grounds of the College. This event was originally conceived by a resident of the Rose Garden SDLC, Jenell Abrams. Regarding this event’s motivation, Abrams said, “We realized that this [concern for safety] is something that’s been at the back of our minds since the first assault, and if it’s at the back our minds, then other people are thinking about it too.”

Students wishing to participate should meet with members of the Rose Garden SDLC in the Dell with a handheld light source. Glow sticks will also be provided by the Rose Garden.

There are several other steps Facilities Management, Campus Security and Residence Life have taken that also might provide more safety. Currently, Campus Security regularly checks to make sure that locks on residence halls are in working order, night patrol coverage is being increased and dates are set for Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) classes. A student escort service is also available to all students by calling Campus Security at (717) 361-1264. Additional planned security measures for the College include the installation of electronic locks on all residence hall doors and an environmental security audit of the campus.

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