CMU students should take responsibility for own security

Saturday?s massive wave of anti-war protests saw an unprecedented presence from Campus Police. The protesters remained docile for the most part, and the extra security went untested, but it did not go unnoticed.
Campus Police does a wonderful job day in and day out of responding to situations ranging from lockouts to major injuries on campus. Its response time is fast, officers are incredibly courteous, and the dispatcher is always helpful. Despite their generally positive impact on campus and their numerous community services, the police officers still primarily respond to situations that arise rather than preventing problems from happening.
Campus Police cannot, however, protect every moment of students? lives. Security starts at home: We should be most concerned about those areas that involve our everyday lives. Take, for example, the Desk Attendants (DAs) stationed at the entrances to Morewood Gardens, West Wing, Donner Hall, New House, and Mudge House. As the Desk Attendant Manual says in its mission statement, ?It is important that the residence halls of Carnegie Mellon University remain a safe place for residents and their guests. To uphold this belief, the Residence House Service Desks additionally carry out a validation policy of those who desire entrance to the five residence halls with service desks.?
According to policy, anybody who enters these staffed residence halls must show or swipe an ID card. Yet in practice this policy is rarely enforced. Frequently, DAs will buzz people in even when no identification is presented; on occasion, people who do not belong in these residence halls get in without a second thought. If a solicitor from Larry and Carol?s Pizza can trespass in the building and throw menus under every door, what is to stop a criminal from coming in and damaging property or ? even worse ? harming the residents of the building? A good step in protecting the University?s students is enforcing the policies already created to aid them.
Outside the controlled environment of campus residences, crime is even more difficult to contain. In the last week, a crime was commited representing the most heinous incident since the August 2002 rape at Gesling Stadium. A student?s money was taken while he was walking in front of Morewood Gardens. That area was well-lit, frequently traveled, and in direct view of hundreds of people; nonetheless, the robbery still took place at a very a late hour. If nothing else, this incident should serve to remind us that crimes of this nature can still happen, even on such a well-patrolled thoroughfare in a relatively safe area of one of the safer cities in the nation.
Among other crimes executed in nominally safe areas are the thefts of computer components from several Instructional Technology lecture halls, now without completely functional computer systems. These thefts took place in buildings which were either open and unprotected or which had easily bypassed locks. Though an increasing number of buildings on campus are locked at night, buildings like CFA, Hamerschlag, Margaret Morrison, and Cyert Halls still allow universal access at any time of day. Buildings like Doherty and Baker are locked overnight but motion sensors used to unlock the doors from within can be tripped from outside. With these permissive access policies, it is imperative that the students within these buildings be the first line of defense against such thefts, particularly during the overnight hours when police cannot be expected to cover the entire campus.
To ensure our future safety, this campus needs an increased sense of vigilance: People need to be more aware of their surroundings and what is going on. Each student on campus is personally responsible for allaying the multitude of potential crimes; it is folly to rely totally on others to provide one?s own safety.