Whether you’re a commuter or resident, campus safety can be one of the biggest concerns for any student. But campus safety is a job for more than just law enforcement.
“Campus safety takes a partnership,” says Captain Michael Foyle of the Westfield State University Department of Public Safety. “If people are seeing something, or even hearing something, that raises a concern, we need them to communicate that to us.”
It’s this partnership that keeps Westfield State an open and inviting community. “90% of my department’s interactions aren’t even law enforcement related…it might be jumpstarting a car or helping someone open the door.”
While that might sound hard to believe, Capt. Foyle stresses that much like every other resource at Westfield State University, the Department of Public Safety is here to help students, not hurt their future. Most campus-related incidents are sent to the Student Conduct Department for review.
“We want to get every student the resources they need to be a success, that can mean help with substance abuse or even mental health counseling.”
If students are interested in getting to know their campus safety officers and helping out their community at the same time, they can take part in the annual "Stuff A Cruiser" campaign. Campus patrol cruisers are filled with toy donations for local kids in need. It's a fun way to give back while making connections with the people helping to keep our campus safe.
But even with the friendly feel of campus life, crimes can still be committed, so Westfield State goes the extra mile in keeping students feeling secure. For starters, there's the Emergency Notification System on campus. Students can sign up to receive emails, texts or voicemail alerts in the case of a potentially dangerous event on or off campus. If students aren't comfortable walking around alone, they can request an escort or take the shuttle. Walking at night? Everyone can find their way back home with the campus-wide electronic outdoor lighting system. And don't forget that every resident hall has a staff of full-time directors and RA's that can help out at a moment's notice.
Still, the most important safety precaution any student can take is to decide what’s comfortable for them. Students should learn the ‘Westfield normal,’ as Capt. Foyle calls it. “It’s not unusual to have students walking around at 3 a.m. on a Wednesday, so if you see something that feels unusual to you, say something.”
Just as there are ways for students to report crimes on campus, there’s also plenty of ways for crimes to be prevented. Students can take part in officer-led training programs on self-defense, bystander intervention and drug abuse awareness.
Students are also encouraged to take part in "Fresh Check Day," a day dedicated to educating and raising awareness about mental health, suicide prevention and more. Learn more about "Fresh Check Day" here.
Every student should feel safe on campus. And every student should be able to contribute to others feeling the same way. Look for ways to help out and speak up next time you see something out-of-the-ordinary on campus.
For more of our top tips for college freshmen about staying safe and connected to your community grab our Student Survival Guide.