Despite security, dorms still see crime

Hannah Khan 
Contributing Writer

For students living in the VCU dorms, crime can hit close to home.

There were 217 total offenses and arrests made at all the VCU dorms during the 2011 academic year. Out of those arrests, 207 were violations of liquor and drug laws, nine were burglary-related and one was a forcible sex offense, according to the 2013 annual security and fire safety report released by VCU PD.

Brandt and Rhoads ranked the highest with a combined total of 89 arrests, the report said. Bear, McRae, Rudd and Warner halls at the MCV campus all had zero arrests.

Residence halls are among the most monitored buildings on campus.  They are watched by security guards, cameras and police officers. While some residents feel that the security measures are too extreme for a college setting, others said they value the they are necessary to ensure the safety of the students living there.

“I would like to believe that there is an increased amount of security based on on-campus crime rates,” said freshman Sam Dixon, a resident of the Gladding Residence Center. “But I think that VCU does a good job at being proactive with security, they don’t wait for crime to happen in order to take action.”

Michael Kelly, a spokesperson for the VCU Police Department, said burglary and theft are the most common crime on campus, and there are numerous precautions the police department takes to prevent theft from happening.

Dorms require an ID check upon entry, and guests must be signed in, Kelly said. He also said the front doors of all dorms are heavily monitored.

“Additionally, the only doors that can be accessed for entry are controlled front doors that route people through the guard desks,” Kelly said. “Security guards are on duty 24 hours per day and conduct frequent floor checks.”

The bulk of crimes reported to students via alerts do not have anything to do with the school, Kelly said.

“The majority of crime that occurs on campus is perpetrated by persons not associated with the university. That is why our security personnel take building access so seriously,” Kelly said.

In a perception of safety survey done earlier this year by the VCU Police Department, 94.6 percent of students, faculty and staff at VCU said they feel either “safe” or “very safe” on its campuses. Brandt resident and freshman Ikram Ali said she feels safe on campus.

“I think due to the fact that we are in the city and not a little college town, crime is more apparent,” Ali said. “VCU security takes security of their students more seriously than other schools in Virginia and I don’t think their measures are extreme, just really cautious. I feel safe here.”

However, Ali did say she disagreed with Brandt’s sign-in policy.

“All freshman shouldn’t have to go through the lengthy sign-in and sign-out process to just hang out with other freshman who belong to other dorms,” Ali said.

Kelly defended the policy by explaining that “restricting access to only authorized residents and visitors decreases the likelihood that someone will be a victim of a crime or have their things taken, but individual students must take responsibility for ensuring their own safety and securing their residence and their belongings whether they live on or off campus.”

While students like Dixon and Ali said they think there is an apparent correlation between on-campus crime rates and the presence of the security, Kelly said the VCU PD is always looking to maintain campus safety.

“We are a responsive organization that is constantly evaluating and adjusting our efforts to ensure we are providing exceptional security, while respecting the privacy and freedom of the community,” Kelly said.

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