For students living on campus, residence halls and dorms are a home away from home. The goal of campus living is to make residents feel like campus housing isn’t just a place to go to sleep at night, but a place to truly live; so making residents feel safe is a priority among the NKU housing staff.
In a satisfaction survey released last spring by University Housing, safety was one of the highest rated areas among residents who took the survey, according to Arnie Slaughter, director of University Housing.
“One of things that draw [students to] university housing is that they feel safe and secure in our facilities,” Slaughter said.
To ensure the safety of residents, many protocols and measures are put in place. As Slaughter explained, one of housing’s biggest reliance and strengths fall on their staff members.
An RA is always on-call 24/7 for every residential area on campus. Each area also has a desk operator on-call. The staff is required to do rounds of their designated areas as well as report anything that seems amiss.
“If there are any issues or concerns we’re able to troubleshoot those before they erupt,” Slaughter said.
Housing staff also go through several training sessions, such as ALICE, a program meant to train individuals on how to deal with an active shooter.
The Hall Director, or HD, and the campus police, who are on call 24/7, are also available to help with any safety concerns within the residential areas.
Apart from staff, NKU University Housing also has a swipe-card system in residential areas such as Callahan, Northern Terrace, University Suites, Commonwealth, Kentucky and Cumberland halls.
The swipe access only allows access to residents who live on-campus. Depending on the location there is also swipe access needed to get into specific wings, adding another layer of security for students.
For the apartment-style housing, like Norse Hall and Woodcrest, a key is needed to get in the room and students are encouraged to keep their apartment secure. There are regular check-ins for these students to make sure everything is running smoothly.
Despite measures taken at schools like UK and U of L, where IDs are checked for incoming guests and hosts and residents are asked to sign in and out, NKU still stands as one the safest options in the state, according to Slaughter.
“[University Housing looks] at the area we’re in. We’re in a safer, more secure environment [compared to counterparts, such as UK and U of L],” Slaughter said. “Some of these other schools that have the 24-hour sign-in and sign-out policy are either your schools that have bigger metropolitan areas or have other issues that require that additional step.”
In addition to swipe-access and a full-time staff, NKU also has security cameras placed at the interior and exterior of each area in order to monitor those coming and going. Though the security cameras aren’t monitored on a 24-hour basis, housing has trained individuals how to pull up footage if a problem arises.
“As we continue to access our safety and security measures, we definitely want to make sure that we’re staying current with technological trends,” Slaughter said. “That we’re being proactive, that we’re not waiting until something happens to then change what we’re doing.”
Slaughter says the staff keeps in contact with other schools to see what’s working and what’s not in terms of safety precautions implemented in their university’s housing.
In the same way, NKU also shares their successes and downfalls with their counterparts. University Housing staff attend national conferences and stay active on discussion boards to garner fresh ideas for dorm safety.
Senior Laura De La Rosa, a senior political science major and resident on campus, feels as if she’s safe enough on campus and in the dorms to feel secure while walking outside at night. De La Rosa’s only suggestion to University Housing was that some areas of campus aren’t well lit.
Students living on campus also contribute to the overall safety of other housing residents.
“We also encourage our residents to let us know if you see anything that is out of the ordinary,” Slaughter said. “Don’t just submit a maintenance request but come to office or come to the RA on duty or the desk staff worker so we can address issues immediately.”
For students, dorms and residential halls become a place where life happens and university housing is there to ensure safety as life is experienced at NKU.
Editor’s note: This story was edited to remove a source whose quotes were used without proper notification.