Moving to an urban campus can be scary for a college freshman, but students at Foggy Bottom are pretty safe as long as they follow simple guidelines, said University Police Director Dolores Stafford.
“Students need to use common sense and good judgment,” Stafford said.
She said in order to protect themselves while traveling at night, students should use the shuttle bus service or at least walk in groups. She said many freshmen get lazy about safety issues.
“The first month, they’re really concerned about security issues,” Stafford said. “After a while, though, they relax a little bit.”
Although the shuttle buses and escort vans sometimes are slow, Stafford said that is encouraging because the services are being utilized. She said the department continues to monitor the programs and find ways to improve them.
She said UPD has resources available to help students protect themselves, and students should take advantage of programs they learn about during the first weeks of school. She also said students need to be smart.
“Don’t come to campus and drink too much,” she said. “There are a lot of negative things that could happen from abusing alcohol and other substances.”
UPD has added the Hall on Virginia Avenue to its patrol route and will have a 24-hour presence in the hall. She said the new residence hall’s location near the Watergate should not cause a problem.
“We get complaints from lots of different sources,” Stafford said. “I would expect we will continue to respond quickly and effectively.”
Stafford said although the size of the University community has grown, crime has not increased.
“We’ve kept up and continue to respond to the growth of the campus,” she said. “A lot of the programs today weren’t around five or six years ago.”
Stafford said there was a 17 percent decrease in crimes reported during the 1998 calendar year, and a 32 percent decrease in the last two years. She said much of the decrease has been in property crimes, with only 88 reported larcenies in residence halls last year.
“We must be doing something right,” she said.
Stafford said three rapes were reported to UPD in 1998. However, unofficial reports, which include crimes not reported to UPD, count six rapes, including four off campus.