Taking safety seriously

CAMPUS ISSUES: The recent reports of sexual battery around UC Berkeley raise the question of how much students are aware of their safety.

Students read about the mother who reported being sexually battered while moving her son into the dorms Aug. 21. Students also read about the woman who was allegedly grabbed inappropriately while walking through the Eucalyptus Grove on campus that same day and about how, on the following day, a UC Berkeley student was also allegedly grabbed inappropriately.

But as students, our impression is that the likely reaction felt by many of our peers is: “That won’t happen to me.”
With all the reports of crime around the UC Berkeley campus, we still see students walking home alone at night, strolling through desolate areas and paying more attention to their smartphones than to what’s around them. It is scary to think that students often take their safety for granted.

The campus makes efforts to raise safety awareness, and yet it seems a lot of our peers don’t make safety a priority, as many still don’t take necessary precautions. UCPD officers speak at CalSO, dorms often post reports of crimes in their entrances and UCPD teams up with the ASUC to hold forums that facilitate discussion.

We were impressed by the quick response of UCPD officers to the latest incidents of sexual battery — a suspect was identified by each victim and taken into custody soon after each report. We are also encouraged by the collaboration and communication between the chiefs of the two police departments and the continued efforts of the Joint Southside Safety Patrol, in which some UCPD and Berkeley Police Department officers patrol Southside in the same patrol cars.

However, we also feel that there is room for improvement. The emergency blue light telephone system needs to be more extensive throughout and around the campus because sometimes the phones cannot be seen, and they do not serve all places where students roam.

The police departments can make more of an effort to increase awareness of campus crime. The reality is that many students are still going to walk at night alone, thinking they are safe. It is not that police should scare awareness into students, but the community does have the right to be informed as much as possible.

News about crime is a far-off tale until it happens. And then it’s too late. The campus strives to keep us safe, but it is also the responsibility of students to care for their own well-being. It is impossible to prevent some crimes, but there are ways to be smarter about safety. Be aware of your surroundings. Take advantage of campus resources like BearWALK, which has an automated online and phone system, making it easier to use. And never take safety for granted.