Story by Yashowanto Ghosh, Staff Writer
Photo courtesy Valentina Garcia
Aquinas College’s Department of Campus Safety has taken steps to increase security in response to an incident of sexual assault that took place near campus on Friday, Sept. 8, 2017.
Campus Safety has been working closely with the Grand Rapids Police Department, and officers from both establishments have increased patrolling, said Officer Kevin Kwiatkowski, director of Campus Safety. His department has more officers outside on the grounds more of the time, they are offering more safety escorts, being more active about locking doors and increasing their overall presence on campus. He said his officers are doing everything possible to keep the campus safe.
In general, Campus Safety is always working steadily to improve security, such as by adding lights along our walkways, or by adding more card-access doors. I myself remember when our trails had no lights; I also remember when the doors to AB stayed unlocked all of the time — that changed after two projectors were stolen from our classrooms one year. I remember hearing about a violent crime near campus my first year at Aquinas, after which I locked my office door when I came to work on weekends for months, because I felt a bit unsafe with the building’s doors unlocked.
Kwiatkowski added that, while such incidents have also happened before, they are rare in the vicinity of our campus, and are committed by stray criminals. He said the campus is safe, and its surroundings, too, are safe on the whole, but crime does happen everywhere, so we should stay on guard.
Campus Safety is doing all they can, but Kwiatkowski would like each of us to also promote our own safety first. He suggested a number of concrete steps we should take toward promoting our own safety. He said we should not walk alone — if we cannot find at least one friend to walk with us, we can always call Campus Safety and ask for a safety escort. He would also like us to not be looking at our cell phones or listening to our earphones when we walk outside, but to pay attention to our surroundings instead. In addition to watching out for danger, we should be also aware of the blue emergency phones at several points on campus, which we could use whenever we need help. And, just in case we ever need help when we are not near one of the blue emergency phones, he would like us to have Campus Safety on speed dial — their number is (616) 632-2462.
Kwiatkowski wants us to know that Campus Safety stays open and staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and 365 days a year — they are on call even during holidays, breaks, and vacations. They are always available, ready to help, and just a phone call away.
If you ever see anyone loitering — or anything else that’s suspicious — in our parking lots, around our buildings, or anywhere else on campus, Kwiatkowski said he would like you to call Campus Safety immediately, without waiting.
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