How safe is Public Safety?


We have always considered DePauw’s campus a relatively safe environment. We have never felt unsafe to the point where we cannot walk across campus with at least one friend. However, in regards to a recent event, we no longer feel the same way about our safety at DePauw- particularly the inconsistency of Public Safety.

Last Thursday, numerous students reported a stranger wandering campus, drunk and spouting threats of wanting to kill someone. The man entered Roy around 10:15 p.m. and having studied there practically every night, we know that Roy is busy around this time.

However, Roy was not the first place the man was on campus that night. Multiple calls were made to Public Safety after noticing the man in Rector Village. The entire incident lasted almost 30 minutes with no Public Safety intervention. Despite what the email stated, the man wasn’t apprehended right away. What is most frustrating and confusing is why Public Safety, who from the various calls they received, failed to notify students.

In fact, students were not even notified until the next day, at 5:18 p.m., almost 20 hours after the issue occurred. In the past, campus security has typically notified students within minutes, or at the very least hours, of something occurring that might potentially be a threat to students roaming around campus. We remember receiving the alert only minutes after students had reported seeing a clown on campus; yet, where was the alert when a man who was threatening to kill someone was walking around our campus?

Public Safety is typically on the prowl at night for the occasional drunk student or party-goer coming home; when people call with serious concerns, we would hope that Public Safety takes such concerns as seriously as they do the party scene, if not more. It makes us question where Public Safety’s priorities lie: hunting down party-goers or arresting potentially dangerous individuals?

It would have been reassuring to have received an alert that night, especially for the students who had called in asking for constant updates about the man’s whereabouts before proceeding home. It is disappointing that the students who encountered the man first-hand were not notified that night and thus had to walk home scared of running into him again.

We cannot help but think would the man have been apprehended sooner if he had a weapon or had physically threatened a student? It begs the question of how much does a suspect have to do in order for Public Safety to respond quicker than they had?

DePauw has never made either of us feel like we were ever in immediate danger. Yet, following this incident, we do not feel as safe as we once had walking across our campus. Since DePauw’s streets are open to the public, we feel occurrences like this should be taken just as seriously as campus drinking.

Luckily, no one was physically hurt, however, the situation could have had tragic consequences. What does it take to require a campus-wide message?