Practicing safety saves lives

Ben Wolford

Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Myers

Credit: DKS Editors

Sometimes, being safe rather than sorry involves taking a gamble.

For example, that five-page paper in biochemical engineering might be due tomorrow, or it might not. The student who would rather be safe than sorry may be even sorrier upon learning it isn’t due until next week.

But when it comes to being safe on campus and in everyday life, the stakes aren’t quite so high. Keeping a few simple precautions in mind could be the difference between a good day and a bad one.

“People aren’t living on campus in a bubble,” said Alice Ickes of the Kent State Police Dept. “They’re commuting back and forth, they’re going home on the weekend, they’re traveling, and they do need to have an awareness of some of the risks.”

And some risks are more significant than others.

According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program, there were no reported cases of violent crime at Kent State in 2006, while property crimes totaled 189 reported cases.

Ickes said many of these could have been prevented.

“What we usually get is a theft report where they tell us, ‘I found all my stuff missing from my dresser drawer and I thought it was suspicious when there was a guy wandering in the hall,'” Ickes said. “So by all means, report suspicious people, suspicious noises and any other suspicious activity.”

Other theft prevention methods include closing propped open doors, locking windows and leaving small but valuable items out of sight.


• Report suspicious people, noises and activities.

• Lock windows and doors.

• Stay where people can see you.

• Use the campus escort services or taxis.

• Be aware when approaching your vehicle. Look over, under and around the car.

• Be aware of people in surrounding vehicles.

– Alice Ickes

Even though property crimes are the most common types of reported incidents, the possibility for violent crime still exists.

“Ever since the shootings at Virginia Tech, the preparedness issue has been much more on people’s minds,” Ickes said.

She said the fear of gun violence is much more relevant now and offered advice if the situation ever arises.

“The best thing to do is just to get out of their sight,” she said. “Get behind a locked door. Make it dark. Make it hard to see you, hear you or find you.”

More common among violent crimes on campuses statewide are things like forcible rape and robbery, according to the FBI crime reports. But preventing these offenses can be as easy as staying out in the open and avoiding dark places.

“If you’re walking at night on campus, or anywhere, and you believe the person behind you is following you, go where people are,” Ickes said.

Also, the residential security aides will provide escort services anywhere on campus.

And while it’s unlikely that anyone is hiding under a parked car, Ickes said it’s not a bad idea to be cautious in parking lots.

“Look at your vehicle when you approach it,” she said. “Look over, under and around it. Look for people in other cars just sitting there.”

Perhaps the most pertinent safety issue on a college campus is the risk of alcohol-related accidents. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Web site, research by the College Task Force showed that drinking by college students ages 18 to 24 resulted in 1,700 deaths in 2005.

“If a person vomits and they’re too drunk to react to it, they are at serious risk for alcohol poisoning or aspirating it into their lungs and drowning,” Ickes said. “They need medical attention. They’re not someone you want to babysit for the night.”

It’s also a good idea to make use of buses, the escort service or taxi services to get home.

Common sense goes a long way when trying to stay safe.

“We have such good instincts if we listen to them,” Ickes said. “If you think something’s odd or out of place, respond accordingly to what your instincts tell you.”

Contact features reporter Ben Wolford at [email protected].