The Missouri Students Association-sponsored Safety Walk, aimed at identifying safety problems across MU, took place Sept. 18.
“This was the 40th Safety Walk that we’ve held at Mizzou, and they’re usually held every spring semester and every fall semester,” Student Services Director Sean Joy said. “I think the biggest problems were structural things, things that may have been moved during construction that were never corrected, lights that were out and some bushes that needed to be trimmed back for safety and security purposes.”
Drawing from the findings of the walk, Joy said the most prevalent issue on campus is the scattered lack of lighting.
“A lot of the light things are fixable, and there are areas that need more lighting,” Joy said. “I’ve learned a lot from doing the walks about the types of lights that are used, and some they wish they could change. It’s something that will only make our campus safer.”
Stephen Smith, coordinator of the Department of Student Services, said he thinks the most substantive issue facing the MU community is infrastructure issues in Greektown.
“(Greektown) has a lot of issues,” Smith said. “The sidewalks are not acceptable, a lot of things in the roads, the cracks — it's in very unstable condition. Greektown is the biggest issue right now, and it's harder to fix because it's not on campus. We're trying to find the best route.”
Joy said he and Smith have been working to ensure that the report does not go unnoticed and that issues are actually addressed.
“Most of the time, a Safety Walk report is created, and that is distributed to people that were on the walk, people from campus facilities, people that need to have the information to fix the problems,” Joy said. “I had some discussions with some cabinet members and with (MSA President) Nick Droege about implementing these things and how are we going to make Safety Walk something that fixes these problems and looks at them and makes sure our campus is really safe.”
Smith elaborated on the matter by describing what MSA has already done and what it plans to do in the near future after he and Joy met with MU Police Department last week.
“We went through the list of things that were and weren't fixed and went through each one and got a game plan for each issue,” Smith said. “We're going to follow up in a week or two and touch base and go online so that MSA and other organizations can look at this document and know what needs to be done.”
Smith said he is optimistic about the Safety Walk, noting that many issues raised last semester have since been fixed. He hopes that future walks can focus more on larger issues facing campus, rather than smaller problems with easy fixes.
“Obviously I hope that we resolve all of the current issues,” Smith said. “All of the smaller issues like lighting on campus, I hope we can get those solved and have fewer issues the next Safety Walk.”
The Safety Walk report went beyond the easily identifiable issues. It also provided some statistical figures to put MU’s crime rate into perspective relative to other Southeastern Conference universities. Compared to other SEC universities, MU sustains a relatively low crime rate.
“(We use) proactive educational programing, proactive patrol, complete investigations of crimes when they do occur and (assist in) keeping the community informed,” MUPD spokesman Captain Brian Weimer said.
Weimer said that the largest obstacle has been getting people to not leave items unattended or doors open. Weimer warned about getting too held up on the numbers revealed by the Safety Walk report.
“Looking at the schools, you need to consider their size, location, etc.,” Weimer said. “I don't think you can simply compare numbers. Due to our low crime rates, even a change of one or two crimes can have an impact, so that is why, once again, we look for major swings.”
Smith said he encourages students to take the initiative and report safety hazards or needed improvements they discover around campus.
“Always be aware of surroundings,” Smith said. “If there is any point where something is unsafe or where it could be improved to, bring it to MSA's attention and MUPD's attention so that we can get it fixed. Students are the ones who see these problems firsthand, so they can take the initiative so that we can step in and get those things fixed.”