UNCA staff stress importance of keeping campus safe for the future

By Anna Frate – [email protected] – Contributing writer
Campus police officers perform more functions than just administering security, according to Danny Moss, assistant police chief at UNC Asheville.
“We also do education for certain things. Like if we have a lot of larcenies from the residence hall, we’ll go and talk to the people in the residence hall about securing your property, locking your doors, which we do every year anyway,” Moss said.
According to university police, educational programs on personal safety and crime prevention are offered to students, faculty and staff throughout the year.
“University police is always researching new prevention and education methods and we partner with them frequently in and around residence halls. Even with all the technology that is available, people and the shared responsibility of community is still the most effective method, in my opinion,” said Vollie Barnwell, director of housing and student life operations.
The top three crimes committed on college campuses comprise alcohol consumption, drug use and larceny, according to Moss.
“Usually alcohol is the highest on all campuses, and that’s about the same as here,” Moss said.
Nine violations involving alcohol on UNCA’s campus occurred in September, and 18 alcohol violations at Western Carolina University, according to state crime statistics.
Western has 9,608 students, nearly triple UNCA’s student population.
“We have shown a decrease in what we call our breaking and entering of residence halls,” Moss said. “People are actually taking more responsibility for their property and locking it up.”
Larceny of unsecured property remains an issue at UNCA, according to Moss.
“People just for some reason leave their computers laying around,” Moss said.
According to UNCA’s crime log, five instances of larceny occurred in the month of September.
“I’ve heard it said by a colleague to a group of parents once that campus safety is a shared responsibility, and while our campus has been a safe campus previously, that isn’t as important as keeping it safe in the future,” Barnwell said.
Students fall victim to larceny because they don’t consider their peers to be thieves, according to Emily Baenen, a sophomore at UNCA.
“We were taking a tour of the residence halls, and the tour guide told us about how a girl got her computer stolen, but that was because she left her door open,” said Baenen, resident of Governors Hall.
All students with on-campus residency must swipe their student identification card to enter residence halls, according to Barnwell.
“In addition to electronic access control, each residence hall has a staff member who sits at the main entrance from 8 p.m. – 5 a.m. to monitor access, check in visitors and be a resource to the residential community,” Barnwell said.
According to UNCA’s annual security report, 16 instances of burglary on campus occurred in 2010, nine in 2011 and just two in 2012. Western Carolina reports 38 burglaries in 2010, 23 in 2011 and seven in 2012.
“I think UNCA is one of the safest campuses,” Baenen said. “As long as you lock your door.”
In addition to locks on the outside of suite doors in residence halls, each bedroom comes with a lock of its own, according to Barnwell.
“We are here to protect the student body and faculty and staff on campus,” Moss said.
According to Moss, campus security will increase surveillance in areas with high crime rates.
“If we have an area where we have a lot of underage drinking or marijuana use, or we have an area where a lot of cars are being broken into then we’re going to increase our patrols,” Moss said.