Off-campus living students share safety tips

Sarah Heber

Recent incidents, such as the hostage situation at The Villages at Franklin Crossings and the shooting at Ryan Place Apartments that resulted in the death of Nicholas Massa, have Kent State students more conscious of their surroundings. 

Students like Briggs Van Sickle, a sophomore dance studies major, said they feel safer in a residence hall than in an apartment.

“I feel like there is a little more security in dorms like with (resident assistants) and the card swipe to get into the building — not that anything can’t happen in dorms or anywhere, though,” Van Sickle said. “Horrible things happen in the world.”

While living off campus might allow students more freedom than in residence halls, with no quiet hours and fewer community rules, students lose on-campus security services. 

These services include security aides, resident assistants and blue light emergency phones. Because of the lack of resources, off-campus students are more responsible for their own safety.

Mason Nicol, a sophomore digital sciences major, currently lives off campus at the Ryan Place Apartments, but stayed in a residence hall last year.

Now that he lives in an apartment, he said he always makes sure to think of all of the access points into the apartment and secures them before leaving.

“Living in a dorm, you don’t have to worry about someone climbing up three stories to sneak into your window,” Nicol said. “Since we’re on the first floor of the apartment (complex), we always have to make sure our windows are locked.”

Amelia Dewey, a sophomore interior design major, said she felt differently about her safety on campus versus in her apartment.

As a freshman, Dewey lived in a residence hall. After a year, though, she moved into an off-campus apartment.

“I don’t think I felt safer on campus,” Dewey said. “I think I was more scared on campus than off campus, but I was also a new freshman, so that could have been a factor.”

When students live outside of campus, they have more safety precautions to consider. Brooke Dorsey, a junior criminology and justice studies major, said she takes safety into her own hands.

“I carry around pepper spray and always keep my lookout,” Dorsey said. “Also, as soon as I get into my car, I lock it before I even start it.”

Dewey takes her safety seriously by channeling a superhero.

“When I’m coming home late, I’ll take my keys in between my fingers — kind of like Wolverine,” Dewey said. “I always try to be aware of who’s in front of me or behind me.”

Van Sickle said she and her roommates use the buddy system when walking around their apartment complex. When a roommate is not around to accompany the other, Van Sickle recommends calling a friend.

“Always be aware … if you feel unsafe or uncomfortable, just call somebody,” Van Sickle said. “Even if you’re on campus, I still say call a friend, so they could hear if something goes on.”

Van Sickle said phones are “amazing” because if a situation arises, her friends can track her phone’s location via an app they all use called Find My Friends. The app lets them share their locations at all times with each other.

While it is important to take precautions regarding safety, Van Sickle noted that there is a fine line between fear and freedom.

“You can’t live your life in fear,” she said. “You have to figure out ways to be safe, but still experience life.”

Sarah Heber is the safety reporter, contact her at [email protected].