Safety at Kent State

Sgt. From left, “After the Fire” speakers Shawn Simons and Alvaro Llanos, and Kent State Assistant Director of Residential Safety and Security Brian Hellwig stand outside of the KIVA after the commemorative presentation on Wednesday, September 11, 2013. Photo by Rachel Purget.

Rachel Purget

Five tables and four first-responder vehicles were set up in front of the MACC Wednesday afternoon to promote safety awareness for Kent State students.

The Commuter and Off-Campus Student Organization (COSO), Women’s Center, Portage County Safe Communities and Kent Fire and Police departments organized the event, which presented the dangers of texting and driving, rape and sexual assault and prevention and fire safety.

Kevin Heller, executive director of COSO and senior geology major, said the Kent Police contacted him about putting together the day.

“Officer Penn had emailed me and asked us to be a part of Safety Awareness Day. It’s the first time ever doing [this],” Heller said. “She had asked COSO to become a part of it because we represent the commuter population, which is about 80 percent of campus. We ended up focusing on the texting and driving because it’s pretty amazing in 2011, 23 percent of auto accidents were involved with texting and driving.”

Officer Michquel Penn, of the Kent State Police Department, jumped at the chance to get involved with the event. She helped organize Safety Awareness Day, connecting the day with National Fire Safety Prevention Month.

“We just wanted to take advantage of it and get as much info out as we could,” Penn said. “It’s really important one of the biggest things is that a lot of students are away from home and aren’t aware of some of the things that can occur, safety wise.”

The Kent Police Department had an ODOT drunk driving simulator on site for students to experience.

Students were invited to attend a movie Wednesday night highlighting one of the most dangerous and notable residence hall fires in U.S. history. The hour-long movie, “After the Fire,” focused on Seton Hall in New Jersey and the events leading up to and following the fire. Two speakers, Shawn Simons and Alvaro Llanos, both victims of the tragedy, gave a presentation after the movie. The pair travel around the country sharing their experiences with the Seton Hall fire and advocating fire safety to college students.

Through this event, students were able to take away important safety information:

  • If a student is ever in crisis and doesn’t know where to start to get help, the Women’s Center is always available to start the process of assisting students.
  • The Kent State Police Department encourages students to be aware of their surroundings, that just because Kent is a safe place does not mean it is free of crime.
  • COSO would like students to be aware of the texting ban in Ohio. Not texting and driving could not only prevent a fine, but also save lives.
  • Burnt macaroni and cheese is the number one thing that sets off fire alarms, followed by hair spray and burnt popcorn. The Kent Fire Department encourages students to pay attention to what they are microwaving.

Contact Rachel Purget at [email protected].