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Staying safe on and off campus this new semester

(The Kent Stater files)
Kent State’s Police Services department is located in Stockade Safety Building on 530 E. Summit St. (The Kent Stater files)

Before COVID-19, Kent State was ranked as the safest campus in Ohio – and the 25th safest college in the nation – according to Sgt. Tricia Knoles from the university’s police department. 

Those numbers were found from an independent study which took into account the crime reports from the FBI and a campus safety survey, Knoles said. 

The university has various safety resources in place, including the Kent State University Police Department, blue light phones that can call 911 scattered around campus and a security escort service where students can be walked from one point on campus to another, among other measures.  

Going into this new semester, Knoles said it is important to get involved with campus. She also shared her tips for having a safe, healthy and happy fall. 

Practice awareness while walking around campus, travel in groups at night  

Look around and be free of distractions.

 “The best way to stay safe is to be aware of your surroundings,” Knoles said. “Whether it’s out walking around campus or off campus, students should not walk around with their head down on their cell phones, look around as they are walking, and just in general be aware of your surroundings.” 

“If you see somebody that you feel is suspicious that you’re about to walk past, cross the street and walk on the other side of the street,” Knoles said. “You can always call the police to go and check on that person if you find that they’re suspicious and doing something that you don’t feel right about.”

Knoles advised students walking alone to go to a public space with people or walk with a group so they are not alone. 

“If you see another group of people, walk close to that group, and a lot of the businesses stay open later in the area,” she said. “So worst case scenario, you can go into a business. If you don’t feel safe, or if you see something suspicious, never hesitate to call the police to come check out a person or persons if you feel there’s something going on.”

An emergency blue-light is located on front campus near Rockwell Hall. Pushing the button dials 911 and connects the user to Kent State police. Sara House / The Kent Stater.

 Throughout campus, there are 40-50 local Blue Light Zones people can utilize to call the police by the touch of a button.  

The Kent State University police station is located in the Stockdale Safety Building on 530 E. Summit St. 

 The city of Kent’s police station is at 301 S. Depeyster St.

Flee unsafe situations, check Flash ALERTS

 Get away from an unsafe situation as soon as possible.

 “Get into a safe area and then call 911 on campus,” Knoles said. “If you’re on campus, you will get our dispatchers. If you cross the street off campus, then you’ll get the city of Kent sometimes if the lines are tight or if there are a lot of incoming calls.”

 The university also utilizes Flash ALERTS, which is a text notification system which sends out crucial information about threats and emergencies on all Kent campuses to a person’s phone. Students, faculty and staff can subscribe to the free text service online. Students also can add their parents to the text-alert system.

Handle roommate conflicts in productive ways 

If a student becomes uncomfortable in their roommate situation, Knoles said they should leave the room. They can then talk to their Resident Assistant, Residence Hall Director or Assistant Residence Hall Director.

But if things become dire, Knoles said to immediately call her department. If a student finds themself in a less serious conflict, issues can be worked out through different methods.  

 “If there’s something criminal that is going on, don’t hesitate – just call [university police] directly instead of going through any of the other steps,” Knoles said. “It just depends on if it’s something they just don’t feel comfortable about because it’s maybe a different culture or maybe something they’re just not used to or a personality conflict.”

The city of Kent’s police station is located at 301 S. Depeyster St. Sara House / The Kent Stater.

Stay smart during fun – but unsafe – situations

 When a party gets out of hand, or if a student feels overwhelmed at a fun event, they should leave the area and bring their friends with them.   

“If you go to a party with a friend, you should leave that party with a friend because if it’s unsafe for you, then it’s probably a good idea to be a good friend and have them go with you,” she said. “The best thing is to leave the party or leave that scene that you feel has become unsafe. Never hesitate to contact the police.”

 Keep in mind personal drinking limits. Do not leave drinks unattended, and never accept open drinks from strangers 

 Stay hydrated and well-fed while drinking, and understand body weight and sex can influence how much alcohol a person can safely drink.

People should always watch their drink while out, too, especially if the drink is uncovered, Knoles added. 

 “If people do choose to drink, they need to note not to set their drink where they can’t see it because anybody can put anything in it,” Knoles said. “If there’s someone mixing drinks, mix your own drinks. You should always drink plenty of water in between alcoholic beverages, make sure that you eat something and limit yourself.”

 Knoles said one drink an hour is typically a safe amount to consume if the person has recently eaten and drank water. Knoles also advised to not accept drinks from strangers.

Tricia Knoles, is a sergeant with the Kent State University Police Services Department. Courtesy of Kent State University.

 “Don’t [accept] unless you know the person well,” she said. “I would not take a drink from someone you don’t know or you’re just an acquaintance with because you know them from class – not unless it’s a closed container.”  

How to be safe when feeling too drunk 

The university has a Good Samaritan Provision in place which enables students under 21 to call 911 or police services when a friend or themselves appear to need medical assistance due to alcohol or drug consumption – without the fear of getting arrested for underage drinking. 

The provision “supports responsible decision-making in emergency, possibly life-threatening, situations” according to the Office of the Dean of Students’ website.

If a person or their friend drinks too much, someone should call for help, and an ambulance and other assistance will come. If the situation occurs on campus, a Kent State University police officer will also be present, Knoles said.

 “If you or even your friends under 21 have been drinking, but you’re concerned for their welfare, we will put the report right up as it falls under the Good Samaritan Provision 99.9% of the time,” she said. “There are not going to be any charges.”

 Instead of being arrested or charged with underage drinking, the student who called the police would get an email from Student Conduct saying they may need to meet with a counselor or complete a drug and alcohol evaluation.  

Utilize the university’s security escorting services

 A safety assistant or security aid employed by the university can walk a student from one location on campus to another if the person feels uncomfortable or unsafe walking alone.   

“Sometimes people don’t feel safe walking from the library in the morning to their residence hall, and when you call the number and request an escort, it’s quick,” Knoles said. “They’re usually there within a few minutes, and they can take your walk with you safely. They have received background checks, and they have direct radio contacts. If they need the police, they can contact us.”

Hours for the security escort service are 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. Sunday through Wednesday and 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 a.m. Thursday through Saturday. Students can call for the safety measure at 330-672-7004. 

Annalexis Davis is a campus editor. 

Contact her at [email protected]. 

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About the Contributor
Annalexis Davis, Beat Editor
Annalexis Davis is an aspiring journalist with a passion for bringing investigative journalism to local stories. She enjoys riding motorcycles, reading biographies, and exploring national parks.
Contact her at [email protected]

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    Nickole WatsonAug 24, 2023 at 6:40 pm

    As a edit: The Office of Safety and Security offer walking escorts with a Safety Assistant from 12pm-4am everyday. Thanks!