By ALEXANDER B. PEARCE
School of Communication
University of Miami
When freshman students are sent off to college, their parents often warn them about the dangers they will assuredly face while living on their own. An unattended laptop will doubtlessly be stolen, an unlocked door is asking for trouble, and other advice.
But this may not necessarily be the case for students at the University of Miami.
In roughly the last decade, from 2001 to 2008, the total number of crimes committed on the Coral Gables campus of the University of Miami has dropped by nearly half according to data gathered from The Campus Safety and Security Data Analysis Cutting Tool, a Department of Education report that gathers crime statistics from universities across the country.
The most prominent crimes on campus are assorted thefts and burglaries, as opposed to more violent crimes. During the eight years of the CSSDACT study, there were no reported instances of murder or manslaughter nor did the number of aggravated assaults each year ever number more than 10.
While this may seem like a lot of theft, when compared to other universities in the state UM’s reputation for safety is shown to be well-deserved. As of the 2008 report, UM dealt with 20 percent fewer burglaries than the University of Florida and 17 percent fewer crimes overall.
Students that live on-campus at the university feel comfortable in their dorms thanks to the school’s efforts.
“I feel safe up here in my dorm,” said Dylan Beasley, a sophomore majoring in audio electrical engineering at UM. “I’ve never seen anyone who doesn’t belong here. Between us locking our own doors and trusting the rest of the floor to look out for one another, I feel very safe.”
Even students who live in the University Village, the off-campus apartment-style housing offered by the school, are confident that their lives will remain crime-free because of everything UM has done.
“Living over in the university village is great,” said senior Keilan Awong, who is studying journalism and international studies at UM. “With all of the security they have in place around here, I’ve never even given a second thought to crime or anything like that.”
Security at the University of Miami is provided by the University of Miami Police Department, a fully functioning law enforcement agency. Along with the officers of the UMPD, a dedicated security team helps to keep the peace at the Coral Gables campus.
A number of security initiatives put in place by the university are a major factor in the schools longstanding safety record.
More than 100 emergency phones, known as Blue Light Phones for the large identifying lights on top of them, are placed across the campus for anyone in danger. Each phone connects directly with the UMPD, dispatching an officer immediately even if the person in danger is unable to speak.
Besides the Blue Light Phone Program, several other measures have been taken to ensure the safety of the members of the UM community. Safety escorts, provided free of charge by the UMPD, can be requested at any time by students or members of the faculty at any time of day or night.
Electronic locks that require CaneCards to open block many doors such as those that enter into the student dormitories and the main gate, while security guards watch over the entrances to both the campus and individual buildings.