When attending a college or university, students are entitled to feel safe while they pursue their education. However, achieving the perception of safety is not always easy, especially when there can be valid reasons for students to question their safety on campus.
The National Center for Education Statistics found that in 2017 there were 28,900 crimes against people or property reported to police or security on campuses of post-secondary education institutions. Of these crimes, 36% of them were classified as forcible sex offenses.
A survey from the Association of American Universities found a 13% rate of non-consensual contact on college campuses.
Both studies had one commonality: when it comes to crimes with a sexual nature, women are disproportionately affected compared to men.
Brynn Ellis, a first-year student at UNC, discussed women’s safety on college campuses.
“I think women are absolutely more at risk than men, without a doubt,” Ellis said.
Kenna Reece, another UNC first-year, agreed with Ellis.
“I think women are more at risk in general, but I feel like our campus is safer,” Reece said.
Ellis explained how she feels on UNC’s campus.
“I wouldn’t say I ever feel unsafe, just really anxious. Especially when it’s dark outside,” Ellis said.
Reece said that she feels safer in areas where there are more streetlights and other people.
“I only feel really nervous when I am by myself,” Reece said.
Elllis said that she tries to avoid walking anywhere at night and does her best to walk with other people to try to stay safe.
On Feb. 18 and 25, UNC student senate, along with the UNC Police Department and Facilities Management, organized a safety walkthrough of campus. The walk-through allowed students to point out areas that were poorly lit or were in any way unsafe.
Reece also discussed how crime on campus affects her.
“I know there are crimes happening, but when I don’t actively see any crime it can be easy to forget,” Reece said.
Ellis said that she believes the university does a good job of offering services to keep students safe.
One of these services is the escort program offered by the UNC Police Department. The program allows students to request a police escort to anywhere on campus after dark.
There are also 26 emergency phone poles throughout campus that can immediately connect students to the UNC Police Department.
The UNC Police Department advises students to be aware of their surroundings and walk with a friend in order to stay safe while on campus. They also advise students to report suspicious behaviors and use campus safety resources.