NIU is as safe as any other campus


By Alyssa Pracz

NIU has faced a lot of misfortunes over the past several years: the Feb. 14 shootings, the Antinette “Toni” Keller incident, a shooting outside of Stevenson last year, the football player who was recently shot. Despite all of this, I still believe that the NIU campus itself is a safe place and should not be perceived as a place of fear for current and future college students.

I’m sure a lot of you have heard about the recent study done by American School Search that gave NIU an “F” in safety, ranking it as the 10th most dangerous school in the country. While this is startling, people should realize that the majority of the crimes were involving burglary, aggravated assault and sexual offenses. A lot of crimes like these are crimes of chance and are avoidable if you use common precautionary measures.

For example, whether you’re on the NIU campus, your hometown or out partying in the city, most people know that it is common sense not to walk home late at night by yourself. Yet for some reason, students still continue to do so and make themselves more vulnerable to predators.

Safety is also about the people you associate yourself with. If you hang out with people who are into drugs or constantly get into bar fights, then the probability of you being involved at some point is pretty high. Hanging out with the wrong crowd puts you at risk of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. It’s not to say you should have a list of criteria detailing how to pick and choose your friends, but you should be observant of the choices they make and decide whether that’s something you want to be associated with.

I am obviously not saying that all crimes are the fault of the victims. A lot of the more high-profile incidents have been random acts of violence. Fortunately, NIU has put heightened security measures into place to help prevent these.

Following the Toni Keller incident, late night ride services were extended and there was a 24-hour lockdown in residence halls, allowing only the entrance of students with a key card. After the Feb. 14, 2008 tragedy, there was an increase in campus police officers and an emergency text messaging system was put in place to warn students about subsequent dangers on campus.

The fact is that although there have been some high-profile crimes, none of them are really connected. This is not to downplay the impact of these events, but there is no connection between the perpetrators to suggest that the problem is widespread.

The notion that NIU is a dangerous campus is as much of a problem of perception as it is reality. When you see things like the Feb. 14 shootings and details of the Toni Keller case on the news, all of the smaller incidents get amplified.

NIU is not the only campus where someone could be at risk of being robbed, harassed or threatened in some other way. These are things that can happen anywhere in everyday life.

By making jokes that NIU is the “ghetto” or that everyone should now get bulletproof vests only perpetuates the problem rather than trying to move past it. In reality, students need to use the same safety procedures they would when in any other city, be careful of the people they associate themselves with and realize that NIU does make efforts to keep current and future students safe.