Off-campus residents feel safe without UPD

Students who live off campus say they feel safe despite little protection from the University Police Department.

Students who live in buildings near campus that are not owned by the University do not get as much protection from UPD as students in residence halls, UPD Director Dolores Stafford said.

“There are 24-hour officers at Thurston and officers patrol each of the other halls three times every eight hours,” Stafford said. “There’s not a lot we can do to ensure the safety of students off campus other than to educate them.

“If something happens in an (off-campus) building like Columbia Plaza, we have no jurisdiction to do anything,” Stafford said. “They should call (the Metropolitan Police Department).”

The only non-residence hall building whose address would be under the jurisdiction of UPD is the Dakota, Stafford said.

“The Dakota is run as an apartment building and since the residence hall system pays for security from UPD, we don’t patrol it,” Stafford said.

Although the University does not supply non-residence hall buildings with community facilitators or UPD officers at the door, most students who live off campus said they feel safer than they did when they lived in residence halls.

“We have a doorman working 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week,” said Alex Laster, a resident of The Gibson on 23rd Street. “Theoretically, I guess I should feel less safe without UPD here, but actually I feel safer because we have a regular doorman who knows everyone and knows the people who belong in the building.”

“I feel safer outside a dorm because there aren’t a lot of people with access to the building running around,” senior Michael Nestor said. “In dorms, lots of people walk around who aren’t actually residents and that causes a problem. (Off-campus students) have MPD and I’ve never had any problems.”

An MPD community policing center opened near campus on Virginia Avenue in July to keep MPD officers close to students who live outside of UPD’s jurisdiction, Stafford said.

To make students who live off campus feel safer in their surroundings, UPD offers crime prevention programs throughout the year, she said.

Stafford said UPD will sponsor educational programs during Crime Prevention Month this month.

UPD officers will instruct students about self defense next week during Personal Safety Week, she said.

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