IWU hosts campus safety forum

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Rosa Zapata, News Editor

 

“Since the fall semester began, we have issued more campus safety alerts than we ever had in the last four years,” said Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students at Illinois Wesleyan University, Karla Carney-Hall.

Recently, there have been a string of on-campus as well as off-campus crimes reported including strong-armed robberies, break-ins and a sexual assault case.

Illinois Wesleyan senior, Molly Lessen, was one of the victims of the recent criminal activity.

“Our house was robbed. [The robber] came into our bedroom. When he opened the door, I woke up and he bolted. He ran down the stairs, out the door and drove away all within 60 seconds,” Lessen said.

“It’s one of those things you don’t think about until it happens. Before, we used to leave our blinds open all the time and our valuable stuff would just be lying out in the open,” senior Mallorie DeWitt, Lessen’s roommate, said. “Now we don’t do that. I even sleep with my wallet under my bed now.”

Junior Thomas Bravos was held up at gunpoint on Monday, Sept. 27. “I was just walking to go hang out with friends, and I saw this group of guys. The guy closest to me stood up pointed his gun then said ‘Give me all you’ve got.’” Bravos said. “At first I didn’t react ‘cause I was so shocked. I took my phone and the little bit of money from my pocket out. He asked for my wallet and whatever was in my backpack.”

In response to these types of events, Carney-Hall invited students to a forum held on Sept. 30 where Criminal Investigations Commander Lieutenant Greg Scott and Director of Campus Security Charles Adams would answer student’s questions about campus safety.

“Unless you’re a trained martial artist, comply. Do what they ask. Your first concern should be your safety,” Scott said. “But also be sure to make careful note of what they look like. At that point you want to go from being a victim to being a witness.”

“Walk safely, walk in well-lit areas, walk in groups. Let someone know where you are headed, so if you don’t get there, they can call for help,” Scott said.

According to Tari Renner, Mayor of Bloomington and Illinois Wesleyan professor, “The city of Bloomington has one of the lowest crime rates in Illinois, but it’s not zero. I would say that it is definitely not time to panic, but it’s a time to be vigilant.”

“We tend to get overly comfortable in the Wesleyan bubble. When I lived near the Sigma Chi house, we used to think we didn’t’ need to lock our doors until someone broke in. Now, we always lock our doors. It really comes down to doing basic things like that,” Renner added.

Ray Martinez, Instructional Support Specialist at Illinois Wesleyan, advised students to refuse to be a victim.

“Do not be stuck on your phone. Don’t have both ear buds in while you’re walking around. Have some type of awareness about your surroundings. If you have to check your phone, do it while you’re inside a building. Don’t do it while you’re walking around campus at night. That makes you an immediate target because you don’t know what’s happening around you,” Martinez said.

Adams let students know that the Blue Light callbox near the Ames Library has been fixed. He also explained how it works.

“When you hit the blue light, it goes through our answering service down at the tower, which connects you to a live person. Stay there, describe your circumstances and let them know what is going on. They, in turn, call us, and we respond,” Adams said. “Even if you are not able to speak, we come to you anyway.”

“We recommend that you put the campus security number on speed dial in your phone,” Adams added. The campus security number is (309)-556-1111.

Carney-Hall also let students know about the annual safety walk in which Illinois Wesleyan faculty, staff and student senate representatives walk on campus with students and look for areas with poor lighting, landscape issues and places where there could be safety concerns.

“This year, we are going to move the walk up so that we can address issues now. It’s important that you voice your concerns so that we can address them,” Carney-Hall said.

In response to a student petition, Titan Transport increased its active hours up to 8:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. on Sunday through Thursday and 8:00 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. The number to Titan Transport is (309)-556-2637. Titan Transport is also available for student living off-campus.

“As your dean of students, what that means is that I’m your advocate. It’s part of my goal to make sure that we are creating the experience that you want to have here at Wesleyan, both in and out of the classroom,” Carney-Hall said.