A Sense of Safety on the Hill

Within the past year, crimes at McDaniel College seem more common. With last year’s shooting incident and this year’s mugging, flare gun, and groping incidents crimes near our home on the hill seem to be happening more often. This semester has been especially interesting because the incidents are starting to happen almost every week.

With all these incidents, students are starting to feel unsafe at this school which is something that has not been an issue since my time here at McDaniel. Some students are blaming Campus Safety for their lack of effort to make the students here safe, while other students blame the “townies” for trying to mess with the students at McDaniel. This leads to the question, how safe do students feel on campus with all these crimes happening around them?

Some students use social media networks such as Yik Yak and Twitter to vent their feelings about the current safety issues on campus. They express feelings of discomfort about walking back to their dorm when it is late at night. Some students complain about Campus Safety’s information updates. They feel the updates are annoying, especially when they are being received every hour or so. Some students are worried about what is going to happen next and how the school going to fight back against the increase of crime.

In my opinion, Campus Safety is doing a great job of effectively informing students of the criminal activity and dealing with the issues promptly. They have been working hard to remind students to be cautious when walking on or around campus late at night. They are also patrolling the campus area with more vehicles and officers.

One of the biggest problems is that many students don’t understand how common crimes around Westminster actually are. For example, three years ago, there was a stabbing incident at an off-campus party. This story was only brought to the students’ attention once and was only discussed around school for about a week before most people forgot did not care about the incident any longer. Two years ago, there was a mugging that happened late at night just off campus. Yet again, students were informed about the incident once and it was only talked about for a week or so.

What can Campus Safety do to make the students here at McDaniel feel safer?

One idea would be to hold informational sessions where a Campus Safety representative can explain what to do in case some kind of crime happens to them. The representative would explain a scenario, ask the audience what they should do to avoid harm, and then give tips and ideas about what to do if they ever find themselves in such a situation. After last year’s shooting incident, Campus Safety put together an informational session which I think helped students more than they are willing to admit.

Another idea would be to create an anonymous hotline where people can call in to ask about what to do in a certain risky situation. These ideas or similar programs could help McDaniel students feel safer and better equipped to handle risky situations.

Another idea is figure out a way to better the relationship between the Westminster and the McDaniel communities. It seems that most of the crimes on this campus result from conflicts between McDaniel students and citizens of Westminster. If the college community figures out a way to reduce the sense of rivalry, we could potentially reduce the crimes on campus.

This rivalry is sometimes sparked by social media posts on Yik Yak and Twitter. The people who instigate the problem are the same ones who are victims of a potential crime. An idea to solve this problem would be to get more McDaniel students involved in Westminster community activities. This would give an opportunity for McDaniel students to actually interact with people from the community which might change their views of the people of the Westminster community.

If we want to make McDaniel’s campus feel safe again, we need to overcome our differences with the people of the Westminster community. In the meantime, there are some tips that would be worth following in order to reduce the crime at McDaniel:

  • Avoid walking around campus by yourself at night, especially on the weekends. It is safer and smarter to travel in a group because you are less vulnerable to an unwanted situation.
  • If walking around campus at night, try to travel in well-lit areas. This way, it will be easier to see people around you and your group of friends if someone does try to approach you.
  • If someone you do not know or recognize from the school tries to talk to you, politely cut off the conversation and keep moving to your destination. If you react to someone, especially in a negative way, you are putting yourself more at risk of an unwanted situation that could have been easily avoided.
  • If you feel unsafe at any time, call Campus Safety  at 410-857-2202 immediately. They will come to your rescue as soon as possible to make sure that you are safe. They will even make sure you make it to your destinations safely.