Community engagement boosts campus safety ranking to second

In a ranking involving around 247 universities around the country, Oakland University came out as second for campus safety.

The ranking was done by the National Council for Home Safety and Security, and was partially calculated based on crime statistics on campus as well as neighboring city crime statistics.

OU is similar to a city in population, there are about 20,000 active students which could be on campus at any given point, along with around 3,200 students living in on-campus or university affiliated housing.

“Not only staff work on a goal like this, but a safe community is an engaged community,” Oakland University Police Department Chief Mark Gordon said.

Another factor is how many students per officers there are on campus. There are around 23 sworn officers that are police certified, and these officers go through the exact same training standard city police officers go through.

The campus police also have a mutual agreement with neighboring communities. If Troy or Auburn Hills required backup, OUPD would be of assistance and vice versa.

“We are very proactive and we always have educational programs and public safety programs such as the ‘Lock It or Lose It’ campaign,” OUPD Lieutenant Nicole Thompson said.

OUPD’s hope is that the community will feel good about Oakland ranking second out of around 250 universities. Michigan State University was number 47 while University of Michigan was number 51. However, both officers encourage students and staff that if they see something they should say something.

The most common crime that is committed on campus is larceny. Often, it is electronic devices that are left unattended around campus such as in the Oakland Center or Kresge Library. When a situation such as this arises, calling OUPD should be one of the first things to do. The police will log the report, look on security cameras, interview others around the crime scene and attempt to locate the stolen property.

Both officers say students, staff and faculty educating themselves is the best way to protect themselves from various crimes. OUPD recommends to not leave items unattended and with the second most popular crime on campus, a Minor In Possession, save drinking for when the student is of age. Education is the top priority at a university whether it be studying or protecting against crime.

Community engagement is one of OU’s top priorities in teaching, learning and being proactive after graduation.

“Even though we can’t take full credit, it’s the community partnerships that we have and we work closely with Housing and dean of students,” Thompson said. “We are not immune from crime and students need to take initiative.”

It is the close-knit local communities that help lower crime rates and bring the local universities higher campus safety ratings. Students are a huge help whether it be the past, present or future because around every four years the entire population of the university and “city” change and shift.

Students should “continue to create a safe environment and have the community remain engaged,” Gordon said.