The Daily Gamecock

Online exclusive: Campus safety requires continual effort

A college campus is a place where students should be able to feel safe, but sometimes this can be interrupted by the sound of sirens speeding along streets adjacent to university buildings. This raises the question of how safe students actually are on the USC campus.

Community Relations Captain Eric Grabski feels that campus is relatively safe, given that it has a lower crime rate than surrounding areas. He believes that the USC Police Department has a significant presence on campus.

"We're very accessible," Grabski said. "We have officers that patrol 24/7 and are very visible. They are out in traditional patrol vehicles but also bicycle patrol and walking patrol."

USCPD believes strongly in education as a means to make students more aware and safety-conscious. Every University 101 class receives a safety presentation from a USCPD officer.

Grabski stressed the importance of technology in keeping students safe. USCPD employs traditional methods, such as video surveillance and the emergency call boxes scattered throughout campus.

More recently, they have leapt forward with a new app called "Rave Guardian." It can be downloaded to any smartphone and includes various features that can contribute to a person's safety.

"There's panic feature, so if you're in an unsafe situation or you feel unsafe and you need to contact the police, you can do that by pushing a button on your phone," Grabski said.

There is also a timing feature that will notify a contact, whom the user decides, if it is not deactivated after a set amount of time.

It seems as though most people feel safe while on campus. Second-year chemistry student Summer York is reassured by the presence of security measures even though she has not used them so far.

"I feel safe on campus because the university has provided plenty of resources to ensure safety," York said. "I like the presence of the USCPD and just seeing all the call boxes. It's good to know they're there even if I don't need them." 

Fourth-year media arts student Andrew Zah believes there is still room to improve safety conditions.

"We could always use better light in certain areas. Some places are kind of dark," he said.

The Student Health Center has a variety of services available for students who have been victims of crimes. Chief among these is Sexual Assault and Violence Intervention and Prevention.

SAVIP is a department of Healthy Carolina that specializes in preventing and helping victims of sexual crimes. They provide an around-the-clock call service, medical accompaniment and legal assistance for any students or faculty who need them. They also host free self-defense workshops several times per semester.

Campus safety is a vital and ongoing project that requires participation from a number of sources. Awareness of the potential dangers and the services available is essential to ensuring that students are as safe as possible.

Patrick Ingraham and Emily Grace Mewborne contributed to reporting for this article.