Safe at home

UB needs to step up security in residence halls

On October 25, 2012


A late night incident at Buffalo State landed the college on the morning news. Just before 4 a.m., two students were robbed at gunpoint in their dorm room. The suspects took cash and a cell phone and then fled the scene.

Despite our SUNY counterpart being on the other side of town, there's an important correlation between the schools: security. Just how safe is our school? On a College Prowler list of the safest campuses in New York, UB comes in at No. 80. Buff State ranks 93 on the list.

Getting into UB dorms doesn't take much strength. Between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., anyone can get into the buildings - students and strangers alike - due to the flow of students coming in and out for classes. And after that, as difficult as it may seem to get through our incredibly high-tech card swipe security system, you could just wait around for someone to come waltzing through the door to take advantage of his or her late night meal plan.

Other colleges in the area have much tighter security. D'Youville College notes "stringent security procedures are in place to ensure the safety of all residents and college visitors," providing access control with offers posted at resident halls 24/7. Canisius and Medaille both enact similar systems.

All of these schools have one thing in common besides efficient security: they're all private schools. But just because UB is a public university doesn't mean that everyone from the public should be allowed to come in whenever they feel like it. Why do we have a living space that an entire administration is responsible and liable for just open like this? It's not like it isn't impossible to get past the gates of other schools, but all you need at UB is to employ a little patience. We have basically nothing keeping us safe in our beds.

Three public schools make up the top 10 on the College Prowler list: CUNY John Jay Criminal Justice, CUNY Baruch College and SUNY Empire State College. Closest to home is SUNY Fredonia at number 13, which at the very least staffs the front lobby to the residence hall and locks all but the main door during overnight hours.

Once whoever is inside, the responsibility is on the students to keep their personal items safe, but the university needs to be aware of who is trying to get in and who is in the buildings. That is the school's responsibility.

That's not saying students need their hands held, especially since it's obvious some need a quick reality check. College is a scaled-down version of society - a system within a system. Therefore, what you learn at college is supposed to prepare you for "the real world."

It would be unfair to just blame the school's poor execution. College students are some of the easiest targets, and in our University Police blotters, we've reported multiples cases of students having items stolen from their rooms while they were sleeping with their doors unlocked.

In fact, fluorescent-orange flyers in Fargo Quadrangle have been catching the eyes of the buildings residents, not just because of the color but also for the content. The flyers warn students that "a string of robberies" have occurred throughout the building and reminded them to keep their doors locked whether they're out for the day or out to the bathroom. According to UPD, there have been no robberies reported in Fargo and the flyer's developer probably confused the difference between larcenies and robberies.             Either way, people are having their stuff stolen.

You are not at home anymore; you are in a different world with people you don't know living on the other side of the wall from you. Just as the university should protect you, you need to take some responsibility.

The school and its students can't rest on the fact they reside in Amherst, which is named one of America's safest cities year after year. Clearly, not everyone who goes here is from Amherst. UB should take some action to make the residence halls safer and more secure inside and out. Safety shouldn't be as simple as swiping a card that someone could've dropped on the street and was picked up.

Until anything changes, just remember to actually keep your doors locked.



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