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Campus After Hours: Do Students Feel Safe?

February 7, 2017

Just how safe is the Fresno City College campus at night?

Some students may feel more comfortable than others, but this may simply be because of natural fears of what could be lurking in the dark.

The new chief of the State Center Community College District police department, Jose Flores, said the campus is safe, and that his department does not receive many calls for services that involve violence on campus. Since the start of the spring semester, the most common report is related to parking violations.

According to the 2016 SCCCD Annual Security Report, a total of 31 crimes involving robbery, burglary and aggravated assault were reported on the Fresno City College campus in 2015. This is an improvement from 2014’s 37 reports and 60 reports in 2013.

“The concern or anxiety one feels because of the fear of crime can be greater than the actual amount of crimes happening,” Chief Flores said. “The criminality on campus fluctuates a lot like student activity.”

Since the population of people on campus at night is significantly smaller than in the day time, many of students’ concerns could stem from feelings of being alone.

“It’s a lot scarier at night just because there are fewer people and darker corners,” Drew Louden, a nursing major at FCC,  said. “I just don’t feel too safe at night in general.”

Louden said her concerns are heightened because she has heard stories about women who were mugged or attacked at night.  “Hearing stories like that makes being on campus at night a little more frightening,” she said. “I park off campus, and it’s a long walk.”

Unbeknownst to most students, the police department offers an escort service. The service provides a member of the police department to walk or transport students and staff to locations on campus or to a car in the parking lot. With a single call, students can safely get to where they need to be.

“It’s best to pair up with someone else if it’s late at night; that way your exposure to any threat is minimized,” Chief Flores advised. “Additionally, one of my first initiatives as Chief is for officers to be out of their vehicles, and instead walking or cycling through the campus.”

This would ensure that the police force is seen as a deterrent to criminals, and result in faster response times and greater coverage on campus.

However, some students say they find that the campus at night offers a more relaxing ambiance and aren’t afraid of the dark.

“I’ve never felt unsafe on campus, even at night,” said Luis Arreguin, a criminology major at FCC. “However, I would like to see more security patrolling the campus because it would make me feel safer knowing that there’s always someone around who could help if I did need it.”

Justin Solis, a computer science major, also argued in favor of taking night classes. “The campus feels emptier at night compared to the daytime, but it’s nice,” Solis said. “I take night classes because they’re convenient and allow me to keep my hours at work by fitting with my schedule.”

SCCCD police has plans to hire at least 18 additional officers within the upcoming year. According to Flores, the SCCCD police are now contracted with Fresno Police Department and Madera County Sheriff’s office to assure that there is a reasonable number of officers on campus.

Flores also recommends for students to sign up for the First2Know service. Through this service, registered students are alerted via text message in case of a campus emergency. Students are able to sign up for First2Know through their WebAdvisor account.

Efforts to make the campus a safer place is the job of both the community and professionals. SCCCD police can be reached at 5911 from any campus phone, or 559-244-5911 from any non-campus phone.

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