“If you see something, say something.”
Campus Safety Sgt. Tim Cunningham delivered his message to a crowd of 50 to 60 concerned students and faculty at the “Let’s Talk Safety” student forum in Damen Den Wednesday evening.
After a growing number of sexual abuses and sexual assaults were reported to Campus Safety on and around Lake Shore Campus (LSC) in the past month, Student Government of Loyola Chicago (SGLC) hosted a forum with campus departments and organizations to answer students’ questions and create a dialogue about students’ safety concerns.
Speakers from Campus Safety, Campus Transportation, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), the Wellness Center, the Office of the Dean of Students and SGLC contributed to the discussion.
Cunningham emphasized the importance of immediately notifying Campus Safety when concerns arise.
“Let us determine if you bother us,” he stated at the forum. “We would rather take a hundred calls and have them be nothing rather than have one significant thing go unreported.”
Campus Safety Sgt. Ed Mirabelli echoed Cunningham’s sentiments, saying students should always report circumstances in which they feel even slightly uneasy.
“My rule of thumb is… If you do not feel safe, you’re not safe,” Mirabelli said. “If you see something that makes you [say], ‘This isn’t right,’ you should report it.”
Minimizing distractions was also a thoroughly addressed topic. CTA Security Services official Mike Rozlar said students who are constantly on their phones put themselves at higher risk, whether they are walking or taking the train.
“If someone is bent on committing a crime, … they are going to target the guy who is not paying attention,” Rozlar said at the forum. “Talking on the phone is an open invitation … for [criminals] to jump students.”
Nick Memisovski, Manager of Campus Transportation said students should utilize 8-RIDE, Loyola’s van-shuttle service which leaves LSC every half hour from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m., if they ever feel unsafe walking home.
“8-RIDE is a safe ride,” Memisovski said.
There is also an app for 8-RIDE in development, which Memisovski said Campus Transportation expects to release to all students for iPhone and Android by the end of the semester.
“We know students have been slow to adapt [to it],” Memisovski said. “We’re hoping to have students start using [the app] more and more.”
Loyola senior William Pierce, 22, said all the safety tips communicated were important, but he thought nothing new was presented.
“It didn’t seem like [Campus Safety] presented anything tonight that showed me [anything] would change,” the biology major said. “We’ve heard the [safety] tips before …Those are in the emails that we’ve been getting, and these crimes keep happening.”
While fears over the recent violent crime reports have worried some students, the speakers insisted those incidents are not as common as other crimes. Thefts make up the majority of crimes committed on campus, according to Cunningham.
Still, Pierce said he thought most students showed up to hear about how Campus Safety would respond to the recent sexual crime incidents. He expressed concern over what he sees as a lack of transparency from crime alert emails.
“Despite there being three incidents on Sept. 6 and 7, the email that we got only referenced one of those incidents,” Pierce said. “There’s a distinction for me between one incident in a night and three.”
Cunningham said Campus Safety is “very selective” about which crime alerts to deliver as well as how many to deliver, citing a desire not to “desensitize” students to the harsh reality of each crime.
Loyola senior Kelsey McClear said she came to the forum to learn more about how Campus Safety was responding to the recent crimes on Winthrop, but she said those incidents haven’t affected her daily routine.
“I think there’s an importance in being aware of your surroundings, but it hasn’t changed the way I’ve went about anything,” said the 21-year-old marketing major.
For 21-year-old communication studies major Mary Kate Williams, the recent sexual abuse cases have significantly impacted her routine. While she and her lacrosse teammates used to walk home from Hoyne Field — which is more than one mile west of the LSC — they now often rely on 8-RIDE to return to their dorm, Regis Hall, after late-night practices.
Williams said the discussion didn’t fully dispel her concerns, but it did put her more at ease with the situation.
“I think they did a good job answering questions,” said the junior. “It at least helped me a little bit to know of these options [and] avenues I can take if I’m ever stuck in a situation.”