Residence hall safety is key

Morgan Day

Responsible lifestyles and safety habits important for students

Photo illustrations by Abby Fisher

Credit: Ron Soltys



– Lock doors at all times.

– Alert someone if you notice suspicious activities.

– Don’t let people into residence halls if you don’t know who they are.

– Use your peephole.

– Don’t leave belongings unattended in public areas.

– Keep cash and valuables out of sight.

– Don’t lend out your residence hall key.

Source: Resident Services’ Hallways Handbook

Two students living in the residence halls had laptop computers and other items stolen from their rooms last month.

It’s not that the students left their rooms unattended (there was someone asleep in both rooms) — it’s that the doors simply were not locked.

Betsy Joseph, director of Residence Services, said unless students practice good personal safety habits in the residence halls, they’re going to be susceptible to crimes.

“We would rather have students call (Residence Services) 40 times a day than for something to go overlooked,” she said.

Joseph said students have a responsibility to themselves and other residents to alert someone if they see suspicious activity.

Sophomore biology major Tony Tripi said he remembers a person knocking on random doors on his floor about the time his laptop was stolen. He said he confronted the person afterward and Kent State police have the person’s information, but as far as he knows, nothing has been done yet. The person Tripi thinks stole his laptop is not a Kent State student, he said.

Tripi was sleeping with his door latch open when the computer was stolen around 2 a.m., he said.

Sophomore architecture major Seth Roodman said he was asleep in his room when someone snuck in between 5 and 10 p.m. and stole his laptop and wallet, which was lying on the computer.

Both students now agree on one thing: the need to lock their doors at all times.

“Even when you go to the bathroom,” Roodman said. “Make sure it’s locked before you go to bed, too.”

Roodman and Tripi also suggested keeping an eye out for suspicious people in the residence halls.

The issue of personal safety in the residence halls doesn’t end once a student walks out the bedroom door. Mary LaRiccia, mother of a student who resides in Tri-Towers, said she’s concerned about students not being required to swipe their Personal Entry Devices to get into the bathrooms on their floors.

“Open access to these particular bathrooms leaves students very vulnerable to a sexual assault,” she said. “There seems to be at least one possible solution available that is not currently being used.”

She said Residence Services does a good job with the current safety measures, but this is one area in which they are lacking.

LaRiccia said the women’s bathrooms are often deserted for long periods of time on the weekends, making it particularly easy for a male student to “walk in there and wait” for a female to enter.

“We have the capability to lock the bathrooms,” Joseph said. “But, we don’t do that because students prefer that they not be locked.”

Joseph said students usually go through two “swipes” to get to the bathrooms — one to get in the building and one to get up the elevator.

When the hidden video camera was found in a ninth-floor Koonce Hall bathroom in December, women on that floor had the choice to keep the bathrooms open access or to start using the swiping mechanisms, she said. A majority voted for open access.

This, Joseph said, is how most issues involving students and residence halls are settled — by a resident vote.

Joseph said another issue of concern is students holding the door open for others to enter the residence halls when a key/PED is needed to get in.

“You’re not being rude if you don’t (hold the door for them),” she said. “It’s OK to tell them, ‘You need to swipe your card.'”

Some residence hall elevators do not require a swipe for access, she said. It depends on how large the residence hall is. The higher the occupancy, the more activity a residence hall will receive.

Also, some residence halls house different facilities, such as offices where non-residents would need to go. These elevators should have swipe access.

Joseph stressed that students must practice making good decisions in the residence halls.

“What we want students to know and sort of embrace is that this is their community, and they need to help us keep this community safe,” she said.

Contact safety reporter Morgan Day at [email protected].