By Jackie Glosniak
January 28, 2014
With the seemingly rising frequency of violence in American schools, it is important for Dominican to analyze whether or not the university is doing everything it can to protect its students. While the more publicized acts of campus violence occurs in academic buildings, violent acts also occur in residence halls.
Dominican is home to five residence halls, four of which are located on the main campus. The Coughlin Commons on the east end of campus is where the four residence halls of Murray, Coughlin, Power and Mazzuchelli are connected. The fifth, Aquinas, is located on each floor of the east end of the Priory campus, located eight blocks east of the main campus on Division Street.
For residents to enter the main campus dorms, they must show their ID to a Residence Life desk attendant in the Coughlin Commons and then use the ID to scan into the hall doors. Guests of residents must also complete a formal check-in process, which consists of presenting a valid school or state ID to the desk attendant who then provides the guest with a guest pass and holds on to the person’s ID until check-out.
However, no similar check-in process occurs at Aquinas. The only time there is a member of Residence Life at the entrance to the Priory is on weekend evenings, when one of three resident assistants at the Priory are on duty. During the day, the only person present at the entrance to the Priory is a Welcome and Information Desk worker who does not check IDs or monitor guests.
While there is not a strong personnel presence to monitor resident activity, the entrances to the three floors of Aquinas Hall have their own ID scanners that must be used to gain access to the floors.
“I love that there isn’t a check-in process at the Priory,” senior Jessie McDaniel said. “It doesn’t make me feel any less safe because the dorms have the same ID scanners that main [campus] has.”
Some residents even enjoy that there is not a strict monitoring of access for Aquinas and feel the Priory is just as safe as the main campus.
“Yeah, the security is more relaxed, but we still have key cards just like everyone [on] main. I feel like I am more on my own over here,” junior Lindsey Able said.
“To be completely honest, I feel more safe at the Priory than I do on main campus,” senior Maxwell Harris said. “Not that main campus is not safe, but the Priory is low-key. Nobody really goes out of their way to cause trouble. Everyone is incredibly laid back. I feel as though people are responsible and would not bring unsafe residents to the Priory.”
Senior and Aquinas Resident Assistant Oohshaka Nuttall mirrors residents in feeling safe and is confident that her residents do a good job monitoring any suspicious activity that may occur.
“There are some situations where I am a little concerned when it comes to safety, such as the fact that anyone can get inside of the building during certain times of the day which makes me more alert,” Nuttall explained. “However, knowing all the residents by face helps me out because that way I know who belongs in the dorm area and who does not.”
While no life-threatening incidents have occurred involving students at the Priory, back in the summer of 2011, a homicide involving people not affiliated with Dominican occurred at the parking lot directly south of the Priory driveway entrance. And, even with busy Harlem Avenue located directly alongside the east end of the Priory campus, for the most part, Aquinas residents feel safe and think Dominican does secure the campus.
“The shooting hasn’t been a worry for me because of the general neighborhood we live in,” McDaniel added. “Thatcher [Avenue] seems shadier to me than North Avenue or Harlem. I do see security guards patrolling at night, but they could have more of a presence during the day as well.”
Nuttall acknowledges that security does monitor the Priory, but she feels they can always do more.
“Having at least one security officer at Priory for the entire day, more frequent rounds through the campus, and a check-in system for guests will make the Priory campus feel more safe.”
Residence Life and students in Aquinas urge others that simply being a Good Samaritan is what truly keeps the campus safe.
“I do believe that it all comes down to being aware of your surroundings and the people around you,” Able added.