Credit: Julie Leopo/EdSource
Cal State Northridge

Members of the California Student Journalism Corps fanned out to ask students their thoughts about safety on their college campuses.

The question was left open to interpretation because “safety” could have a different meaning for each person; and while the Feb. 13 Michigan State University shooting had not yet happened when California students were interviewed, they were still reeling from January’s mass shootings in Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay.

In addition, the issue of policing at colleges and universities remains a hot topic and focus area for organizations like Cops Off Campus, which has chapters at numerous California State University and University of California campuses.

Students at eight California campuses were asked, “As a student on this campus, do you have any personal safety concerns?” Some were asked a follow-up question: “Are you aware of any resources in place on your campus to address (your specific) safety issue?”

Below are their responses.

Yerusaliyem Weldegiorges

Junior majoring in nutrition and dietetics at San Francisco State University

By Marie’Sa Rumsey

“Yes, there are always a bunch of random people standing on the sides around campus. Last year, there was an incident where the campus was shut down because of one specific guy (not a student or faculty member) that appeared on campus. So safety concerns are still always in the back of my mind”.

When asked about resources that the campus provides, Weldegiorges said, “Our campus does send out emails regarding safety, but I do not know about specific resources. I should want to look into it more because it is my safety, but since I am so focused on going to class, then going home, I haven’t gone out of my way to find out more information.”

Zane Warren

Third-year computer engineering major at California State University, Bakersfield

By Emma Robertson

“I’ve always felt very safe at CSUB. I’ve only been on campus for, this is only my second semester because I transferred from junior college just this last semester,” Warren said. “But I’ve always felt very safe on campus.”

Even though he is still relatively new to the school and has not personally felt unsafe, Warren has noticed the resources that are available to ensure overall student safety, including his own.

“I know I can contact the campus police department. I’m pretty sure there’s a texting number, or I know they have stations where if something is happening, you can press a button,” he said.

Jennifer Rosales

Fifth-year psychology major at California State University, Northridge

By Randy Flores

“I’ve had concerns at night when I walk to my car or to my next class. It’s dark out — it’s kind of scary,” Rosales said.

Among her concerns, she says, is not enough lighting in the parking structure. The commuter student feels most unsafe there after her evening classes, where she also never sees anyone else.

Rosales added, “I feel like during the day I see them [campus police] quite often, but it’s at night when I don’t see them. And I feel like a little more police presence at night would just be more helpful.”

Francisco Madrid

Fourth-year psychology student at UC Riverside

By Arabel Meyer

“[Safety is] always on my mind whenever I have a class in person later in the day, so I personally try my best to arrange my classes earlier in the day.”

Madrid noted the main safety concerns on campus have been break-ins to campus dormitories as well as cars parked in student lots. These incidents are always shared in emails to students from campus police.

“Receiving those kinds of messages, it is kind of scary to have classes later in the day because of that fact,” Madrid said. “But for the most part, I feel like UCR is a pretty safe campus.”

Ashley Lang

Senior studying psychology and English at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

By Naomi Vanderlip

“There’s a stretch of area from campus that doesn’t really have any big lights around,” Lang said, where a routine walk back home after a long day of classes and late fencing practice emphasized her feeling of fear. “It’s definitely really scary when there’s not enough lighting; it doesn’t feel as safe as it could be.”

Lang said she feels “unsettled” — even on a seemingly short, simple 15-minute walk. Although she feels generally safe during the day, surrounded by other students and natural light, this sense of safety abandons her when night comes, especially when she’s alone.

This unsettled feeling escalated when two on-campus rapes were reported during fall 2021 — less than one week apart. Following this, she felt more cautious and attentive to her surroundings.

Lang is aware of certain safety programs, both of which were implemented shortly after the reported rapes. They include Mustang Shuttle, a shuttle service that makes loops around campus daily, and Mustang Patrol, a student escort walking service for on-campus destinations.

Despite their availability, Lang has not utilized these services, citing the limitations of these services being only on-campus.

“It would be nice if they could expand, even if just a little around campus,” Lang said. “There’s limitations of it being concentrated on campus.”

Ethan Hook

Cuesta College student

By Abbie Phillips

“I feel very safe on campus,” Hook said, adding, “The police presence on campus really helps.”

Hook also said, “The only time I feel slightly unsafe is when I go on a run around campus and have to pass the bus stop. There are some really crazy people that use the bus.”

Zeyda Diaz

Fourth-year humanities and communications major at California State University, Monterey Bay

By Nadia Pulu

Diaz, who worked as a peer mentor at CSUMB’s Cooperative Learning Center, told the story of one of her mentees who had a safety incident on campus.

“She started feeling like someone was following her, and it ended up she was being followed,” Diaz said. After the mentee confided in her about this incident, Diaz said, “That’s the only time I felt unsafe, because I was dealing with someone who was in danger on campus.”

Alyssa Samuli

Fourth-year liberal studies major at Sonoma State University

By Rosie Padilla

“I definitely have many personal safety concerns. My freshman year in particular, I had a class that got out pretty late at night and I was genuinely scared to walk to my dorm alone. There was also many reports sent out about rapes occuring on campus, so I was terrified my first year. My mom actually bought me a self defense flashlight to kind of ease my fear.”

Living on campus for two years, Samuli said she believes Sonoma State seems to be lacking in resources for campus safety.

“I genuinely do not know of any sort of safety protocols that exist on campus, besides the police, obviously. Even though they are present on campus, I have never asked them for help.”

To get more reports like this one, click here to sign up for EdSource’s no-cost daily email on latest developments in education.

Share Article

Comments (1)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked * *

Comments Policy

We welcome your comments. All comments are moderated for civility, relevance and other considerations. Click here for EdSource's Comments Policy.

  1. Jim 1 month ago1 month ago

    Sounds like they like having cops on campus.