Kent State named 11th safest campus

Madison MacArthur

The Council for Home Safety and Security recently named Kent State the 11th safest campus in the nation.

The study looked at a total of 2,167 schools with an enrollment of over 15,000 students.

Chief of Police and Director of Public Safety, Dean Tondiglia, credited the police department with ramping up its community-oriented policing efforts.

“As the police department, we have a role in campus safety, but it’s about the community being willing to tell us what issues are and let us know when there are potential problems or concerns,” he said.

These efforts ensure every building on campus, residence halls and the different organizations have an officer assigned to them, to build a founding relationship with the community.

“They know us,” Tondiglia said. “We break down all those barriers so that we have great communication, and we are on top of any kind of issues that may come to light. We try the best we can to prevent things from happening before they get worse, or even happen.”

He recognized that student involvement plays a key role to keeping the campus safe.

“It’s so important for us to have opportunities to be out there and hear from the students,” he said.

Tricia Knoles, community resource officer for the department, agreed with Tondiglia.  

“Safety is the main priority from the president (to) the faculty, staff and the students,” Knoles said. “Student organizations and student groups are the ones that spearhead a lot of the awareness talks. That’s where students come into play in how they keep the campus safe too.”

According to Brian Hellwig, assistant director for residential communities, the Kent State Police Department works closely with the campus security aids.

The security program within housing started in 1973 as a result of the events of May 4.

“Kent State University is very unique in the country,” Hellwig said. “Usually security is under public safety, so it’s limited in what it does.”

The program interjects as a third step when it comes to safety on campus. Most universities have two steps: the residential assistants and the police.

Kent State takes a three-step approach with the residential assistants, the security aids and the police.

Hellwig wants the department to be more community-focused and used as a resource by the students.

This has lead to the new program “Ask Security” that is now in effect, where every night a security aid will be at an area desk from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. to answer student questions.

Tondiglia said the goal of the police department is simple: prevention.

“We are not immune to crime,” Tondiglia said. “There is no wall around Kent State. (Crime) is bound to occur, but having an engaged community that is willing to support the safety efforts here really helps in reducing risks.”

Madison MacArthur is the safety reporter. Contact her at [email protected].