Left with the realization that campus life is far from utopian, students search internally for answers and ways to keep themselves safe throughout their college years. Many realize that in today’s world few places offer total guarantees of safety and security. Personal awareness of surroundings and people are often a key indicator of some situations. In addition to the stories, rumored or true, is the fact that one’s safety whether on or off campus is totally in the hands of each person.
Officers are posted at the entry ways to SSU campus, but students are becoming increasingly concerned regarding officer response times and visibility throughout the campus. Students are less concerned with negative interactions among other students then they are with the outside community. During times of need, student perception is that campus security is never in place or is slow in reaction to threats. Intervention prior to situations getting out of hand are rarely de-escalated by any security force. Students are left to feel they must fend for themselves until help arrives according to their experiences in the past.
Campus officers walk a fine line of maintaining an open campus atmosphere while also remaining vigilant during surveillance. This responsibility lays squarely at the feet of security of whom I was unable to get any response. Calls have been made to obtain an adequate response of their views of concerns and efforts to maintain public safety and attempts to interview individual officers were met with no comments. Ms. Melinda Hodge, senior administrator, was unavailable for comment.
Students such as Amber Percy and Iesha Westing were shaken from past experiences and accounts of on-campus violence. Percy stated that she had just missed one incident. When asked if they felt outside police needed to patrol periodically throughout the campus, Percy said that she remembered how Savannah PD did set up a perimeter but after a week they were no longer seen. Both students expressed concerns that security is not visibly patrolling or interacting with students only that they have noticed an element of undercover tactics regarding a parked vehicle but were critical of not being able to see through the tinted windows. Both students agree that things have improved, confirming an off-the-record statement by one officer. The officer cited the student’s behavior as cause for the confrontation. Percy and Westing also said that they believed it was crazy that during the day, anyone can walk past the guards, usually unchallenged.
From a different perspective, Abdul Apta and Calypso Srivey, both transfer students, viewed the open campus atmosphere as a pleasant and enjoyable change from their past experiences.
The general opinion of the student body is that it is not the students in attendance causing security problems but is instead the outside Savannah community. Many students say that they believe that an outside police presence as well as operational cameras are needed, particularly in areas that are commonly known to have frequent encounters with outside criminal intent. More recent past criminal and/or violent actions have taken place on campus during the day as opposed to night when it is more difficult to enter campus.
Clearly Savannah State’s future is significantly affected by its policies regarding security. To secure a safe, hospitable conducive environment prone to educating, the answers should come directly from the people who implement and enforce the policies of safety.