WSU officials respond to students’ campus safety concerns

WSU panel on campus safety on August 19, 2015 (KSN photo by Lindsay Cobb)

WICHITA, Kansas – Some Wichita State University students are worried about recent violence on and near campus.

And, WSU officials are responding to their concerns.

The university set up an eight-person panel with campus police, Wichita Police, and university faculty to address questions and concerns over campus safety.

A handful of students showed up Wednesday afternoon to listen and ask questions.

But KSN also wanted to get a feel for how other students felt about their well-being at Wichita State. What we found was their perceptions vary widely.

“Being in a neighborhood like this you do hear gunshots sometimes, and there have been some incidents in the past,” said WSU senior Aneek Noor. He was citing last year’s attack on a woman at nearby Fairmount Park, and the fatal shooting earlier this month at WSU’s Fairmount Towers dormitory.

However, not all students are fearful.

“I’m pretty happy with the safety,” said junior Matt Green. “I know there’s a lot of security guards around here.”

Wednesday’s forum hoped to open up a dialogue and improve safety in the wake of the recent tragedy at Fairmount Towers.

“How do we rise from that and continue to develop ways to better support our community, students, faculty and staff in a first class way,” asked WSU’s Vice President of Student Affairs, Eric Sexton.

Several students shared their concerns.

“How am I supposed to feel safe,” asked graduate student Saeed Alsaleeb. “I’m scared to walk from my class to my car.”

Christine Schneikart-Leubbe, WSU’s dean of students said, “That’s a terrible thing. We don’t want people to be fearful, we don’t want them to be afraid. We want them to be aware.”

Campus police pointed out available resources, like the campus escort service for students walking alone at night.

There are plans for a “night walk” of the campus.

Students and faculty will look for any potential safety improvements, like trimming back shrubs, improving lighting, or even adding more emergency call stations.

“I think we’re on the right track,” said Matthew Brinkmeyer, student government member. “But something that really bothers me is when we act to make things better after something happens. But, really we need to be more acting in prevention, and preventing these things from being able to happen in the first place.”

Noor appreciates the efforts being made. But, now he lives farther from campus.

“I kind of feel like, yeah, it is safer.” And says he doesn’t worry like he used to.

There are several emergency call button stations around campus that you can hit if you find yourself in any type of emergency.

Campus police also suggest students keep the campus emergency number in their phones because that will connect them to campus police faster than by dialing 9-1-1.

That number is 978-3450.

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