Today’s campuses are a mix of the young and the old, the new and the established, and the very modern and very traditional. The buildings covered in thick ivy-leafed and the gentle sloping and meandering walkways tend to make up our imagery of campuses in popular culture and university brochures. But as the world has expanded so has the microcosm that campuses used to be.
Campuses are hubs of activity that draw in many groups into a very dynamic atmosphere. It is no longer as easy to identify who is a student, who is a parent, who is a visiting academic and who just simply should not be there. Students may not notice if they walk by a guard house daily on the way to classes and library study sessions. Campus security is often not high on their list of items to focus on, but it is in fact a well-oiled security system. The intent is always to provide protection without sparking fear, and it is both the systemic and daily decisions that create this balance. Using only the equipment that is anticipated to be needed in a situation, choosing low-profile prefabricated guard booths, and installing systems that allow guards to monitor comings and goings without raising alarm, are all ways to create this safe campus atmosphere.
Campuses are a hotbed for many types of crime, each one requiring a slightly different approach in its prevention. The planning and design of campuses can help combat certain types crime, such as assault. Simple things such as clearly marking pathways and providing well-lit prefab shelters at any transit stop can help students stay visible and protected.
Other potential security measures can be slightly more controversial than simply installing a guard house. Many people believe there should be more camera surveillance on campus and that security personnel should be wearing body cams, while others see these options as a slippery slope and a way to encroach on the privacy of civilians. They question what would be done with all of the data, and could it be sold to companies with a vested interest? On the other hand, could it be that these measures offer the safety they promise?
The dynamism, history, and openness of universities are all keys to fostering the environment of ideas and ingenuity they hold at their core. It would serve no one to turn campuses into closed and suspicious locations. It is therefore very important that security services continue to innovate themselves, while protecting students and faculty from those who wish to prey on their wellbeing on campus.