How to stay safe in Kent at night

Mackenzie Blanton

Trekking across campus at night may be uncomfortable for some students, but Kent State officials are making an effort to ensure the safety of its students while walking at night.

“The campus isn’t too scary at night because it’s so well lit, but I still don’t like walking around alone,”sophomore hospitality management major Meagan Frank said.

Officer Michquel Penn of the Kent State Police Department encourages students to be aware of their surroundings while walking at night.

“If you’re able to, walk with your friends and walk in groups,” Penn said. “Even if you’re on the phone, you get so engrossed in a conversation that you’re not really paying attention to the people around you.”

Disorderly conduct by public intoxication is the most common offense found on campus, Penn said.

“Alcohol is the biggest reason kids get assaulted,” said Pamela Hickey, self-defense professor at the Student Recreation and Wellness Center, “so safe practices when alcohol is involved are probably the No. 1 thing.”

Hickey also encourages students to take a self-defense class and walk with purpose and intention.

In addition to Hickey’s suggestions, the Kent State Police Department and the Department of Residence Services also provide many services on campus to help ensure the safety of students.

“One of the things that we have is 24-hour police patrol,” Penn said. “Our officers aren’t just out in their cruisers; we are out physically at night on foot patrol and bikes.”

The Kent State Police Department, grounds crew and parking services, to name a few, also do a safety walk every semester to make sure the campus is safe for students and faculty, Penn said.

Penn said the departments look at outside lighting to make sure the campus is lit well enough for students to see their surroundings at night.

“When I first started security, probably eight or nine years ago, there were certain pockets of the campus that were not well lit,” said Brian Hellwig, the assistant director for residence safety and security. “We have addressed those over the years, so now everywhere is well lit, especially the walkways.”

Hellwig said when lights are burnt out, they are immediately reported and fixed.

He also suggests students use the campus security-escort service if they’re too afraid to walk at night.

“If students don’t have someone to walk with and don’t feel safe walking alone on campus, they can always call for a security escort anytime between 8 p.m. and 4 a.m., seven days a week,” Hellwig said.

The security-escort service will take students to and from locations on campus, Hellwig said.

“Definitely give us a call,” Penn said. “We would rather be safe than sorry.”

Contact Mackenzie Blanton at [email protected].