Samford University excels at creating a comfortable campus environment for most of its students and visitors. The combination of a charming campus and friendly faces helps students, faculty, and visitors feel secure. With a smaller campus population, a sense of ease is conveyed when considering campus safety, especially in comparison to larger schools that are often located in cities.
Situated in the family-friendly town of Homewood, there appears to be no cause for concern. However, does this notion negate the fact that we should be proactive about maintaining the safety of our cherished campus and students?
The backbone of our campus safety is built off its smaller size. People tend to believe that fewer people equal fewer problems. While that is true in some cases and has historically been true for Samford, we cannot ignore the fact that our campus is growing in student population.
Looking through past press releases from Samford, record enrollment is boasted year after year; this year marks the 15th consecutive year of record enrollment. Each year more precautions are put into place to keep up with student and campus expansion. This fall, two-person bedrooms became three, and students planning to live on campus were asked to move into apartments 12 or more minutes away from campus.
While it is impressive that Samford is receiving an influx of interest each year, our campus must also adjust to maintain the same level of campus safety and quality of life.
One of the main concerns I have recently heard from classmates is the lack of cameras around campus. Ben Brown Plaza is one of the most trafficked areas on campus, adjacent to the Caf, UC, Library, Quad, and Dwight Beeson Hall where many classrooms and offices are located. Campus tours often walk through the plaza and many student community events occur there weekly, from Greek life philanthropy to student fairs.
This semester there have been several moments where video footage on the plaza would have been useful to have. One student in particular – who prefers that their personal story be excluded – even went to retrieve footage after a mishap took place and was told there were no cameras out there. Why would such a highly trafficked area not have security camera footage?
Most security footage can be located at the front campus gates. This accounts for all of the vehicle traffic going in and out of campus, but there are many back entrances that aren’t accounted for. There is a lot of foot traffic from surrounding neighborhoods that goes unaccounted for. While this is not necessarily a bad thing – many campus locations are sprawled throughout downtown areas – we cannot be naïve. The fact that we have monitored gates is something that Samford boasts about, yet it creates a false sense of security.
Another area of concern is the lack of emergency blue light boxes around campus. In theory, these buttons are a simple and effective way to ensure that students feel safe around any area of campus. The main use of these is so someone can locate a button in a time of distress and a safety officer would arrive shortly on the scene to assist.
However, these buttons do not seem to be accessible throughout the entire campus. Sophomore Allie Bovey has noticed that “there are only blue light buttons on the CHS side of campus,” not noticeable around Ben Brown or the Sorority Quad.
“I just feel like they need to be more evenly dispersed,” she said.
Overall, Samford continues to maintain their good reputation as a safe school. Students feel comfortable leaving doors unlocked and bags unattended. Their experiences on campus have not given many of them any reason to question the integrity of their peers.
However, considering recent events such as the homecoming board vandalization, should students be more cautious? Will we see any changes in response to the continuing influx of new students? Do we value our safety as much as we do a new campus rec facility? The university’s decisions will speak for themselves.
No university is perfect, but at Samford we can still identify weak areas and strive to resolve them before they turn into larger issues.