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I Don’t Feel Safe On Campus and This Is Why

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This week my friends and I witnessed an altercation on campus late at night. What at first appeared to be a male student attacking a female student turned out to be a male student restraining his female friend who was in hysterics. Regardless, my friends and I reacted; we used the blue emergency tower to call for help, and one of us ran down the hill to the campus police station to report what we had seen.

I’m relieved my friend saw what was happening and responded appropriately. I’m relieved we had the sense to run to campus police, to call for help. I’m relieved that my friend is an EMT, and that she knows how to react in these situations. Most importantly, I’m relieved that we were there, because the situation could have ended very badly if we hadn’t been.

However, I’m in shock at the way the situation was handled by campus police. I believe that students should not be responsible to do the job that a police officer is trained to do. Perhaps when the campus police officers are trained, they are told not to touch students, and if that is the case, then I accept it. However, I don’t think it was appropriate for my friends to be the ones to hold down a girl who was kicking, scratching and biting. While I’m not sure what the protocol is in these situations, my opinion is that police officers shouldn’t leave four students unattended with a person who had exhibited violent tendencies not minutes before, yet that is what happened.

What is most shocking—and frightening—of all is the fact that the blue emergency tower located next to Bayer Hall doesn’t work properly, and campus police is fully aware of this. After my friends and I told the officer we had trouble using the emergency phone, the officer took us over to the tower to test it. Before testing it, he radioed to the dispatcher to let her know he was about to make a test call. She responded, saying that it hadn’t been working for a while, and that she needed to put in a work order for it. The police officer was visibly taken aback by this information, but the dispatcher spoke of it as though it was common knowledge.

That is horrifying. We are told time and time again that help is always there for us in times of emergency. To learn that one of our lifelines doesn’t work and that nothing is being done about it is very scary. What if we had been farther away from campus police? What if we had been by Westside Hall, or by the Forest apartments? We were lucky that we were where we were at the time, and we’re lucky that, through the shock and the adrenaline rush, we were able to respond appropriately.

From the moment we step on this campus as prospective students, we’re told about those blue emergency towers. Those blue towers are the shining beacons that put our minds at ease as we’re walking back to our dorms from the library late at night. Those blue towers make us feel safe, and I refuse to accept that they are nothing but an illusion of security that can quickly dissipate into thin air the moment they need to be used. However, since the time of this incident, the blue emergency phone has been fixed, and I’m grateful for that.

I’m writing this not because I want to complain, and not because I want to cause trouble. I’m writing this because I want to make sure that everyone on this campus, myself included, is in a safe environment, because after what I witnessed, I don’t feel safe anymore.

You can’t change the situations that arise on campus, but you can change the way you respond to them, and I am begging you to make these changes.

8 Comments

8 Responses to “I Don’t Feel Safe On Campus and This Is Why”

  1. Kate Sahagian on February 5th, 2016 12:11 pm

    Hi, I’m wondering if you have the cop’s contact information? I would like to write a follow-up piece from his side to see how he believed this situation was handled, and perhaps he could answer some questions on police procedure on UNH’s campus. Thank you so much.

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  2. Joe on February 5th, 2016 12:33 pm

    Before I make my comment just wanted to say playing devils advocate here, not saying you are wrong or anything like that. Agree with you on a lot of points. But like you said what if a person were farther away, same if they were nearby/off campus. Call 911, call campus police (keep their number in your phone). Everyone should always have a backup plan if one way doesn’t work out, never ever rely only one way.

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  3. C.E. on February 5th, 2016 2:37 pm

    That blue emergency tower is not the only broken one, or the only one which was broken, on this campus. And it isn’t only the technology that appears to be broken.

    Last year an acquaintance of mine was approached by someone from off campus attempting to sell drugs on the pathway between Harugari and South Campus. The blue tower was used by myself, by her, and eventually a professor within the span of a few minutes. It took multiple calls to campus police to have anything done about this incident. At no point did they take statements from anyone, including the young woman who was targeted. When they found the individual they let him go, stating he could no longer come on campus. I still wonder how effective that statement was on the man.

    The point is, that blue tower wasn’t working either. It took multiple calls and yelling to hear the broken signal on the other side. Safety on the University of New Haven’s campus is an illusion. One upheld for many reasons, but easily shattered for many more.

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  4. yinyang on February 5th, 2016 3:30 pm

    The towers not only have issues, are campus police dispatchers rude, and the response slow, but there are not enough dispersed throughout campus, as mentioned above. Safety is vital on campuses, affecting many aspects from the business aspect, ranking point of view, and overall reputation of the university. Anyhow, UNH, it is about time we upgrade and use PAL devices! Response is quicker, at the students fingertips, accurate, reliable, and WAY more valuable then blue towers. In fact, have both blue towers and PAL devices for ALL faculty and students and staff at the institution. Link to PAL devices included below.

    http://www.nationalprotectivesystems.com/

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  5. M.c. on February 5th, 2016 4:25 pm

    The issue of safety is among many others that caused me to transfer out of this school after my freshmen year. I remember my first year there was a gun man on the loose in the community, every neighboring college (Yale, southern, quinnipiac) was son lock down except for UNH. In fact we did not even receive a warning text or email about the situation. That is just one of many events that made other students and I feel unsafe at that school, causing us to transfer out.

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  6. Ethan on February 6th, 2016 9:41 pm

    So if the tower was fixed, what exactly are you proposing? This seems like a vague allusion to the idea that something should change but I’m left at the end of your article thinking “well what exactly should change?” If a tower was broken and now it’s fixed, it seems like the article raises a moot point- outside of personal expression- to say “I don’t feel safe on campus anymore.” Should students test out blue beacons more? Should we have more police? Saying there is a problem and providing no solution is like pointing out a building is on fire and not calling the fire department.

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  7. Anon on February 29th, 2016 10:45 pm

    Dear author of this article and the other girls that were there that night. I thank you so much for helping me. I am so sorry that I put you through all of that stress and for making you struggle to keep me still. I feel so bad about what I tried to do especially since the campus police made you girls restrain me. I am sorry for pitting you through so much. I wish I knew who you all were so I could apologize in person. I appreciate your help so much. I am finally better after struggling for a long time.
    I don’t feel comfortable telling people who I am on here but if you girls are friends with me on Facebook please message me if you are okay with doing so. I would love to apologize personally
    Thank you
    -B

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  8. Bmcha on June 16th, 2016 10:01 pm

    I would like to speak with you about this if you are okay with it please email me at
    Bmcha1@unh.newhaven.edu

    [Reply]

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I Don’t Feel Safe On Campus and This Is Why