It is important for the community at MU and in Columbia to take safety precautions seriously. Even in a smaller town like Columbia, security is a factor that should not be taken for granted.
RaiJah Griffin is an incoming freshman who is planning on studying biochemical and chemical engineering. Griffin said the time of day affects how she stays safe on campus.
“I always walk with someone else that I know, or if I walk by myself, I walk during the day,” Griffin said. “If I’m going out at night, I always have a couple friends with me.”
She then continued on to speak about the aspects of campus life that give her a sense of safety and security.
“The staff that is here during the summer are very welcoming: checking in on us, making sure that we have everything that we need,” Griffin said. “The environment is really relaxing”
Many times, students may misplace their personal belongings.
“I always make sure I leave my stuff with someone I know,” Griffin said. “If I’m by myself, I just keep it all with me. Always have people’s numbers on speed dial that you can call that can get to you if anything were to happen. Just pay attention, don’t be on your phone while you’re trying to get somewhere.”
Sophomore Caleb Sewell, a Summer Welcome leader, has some personal tips to stay safe on campus.
“For incoming students, I recommend them utilizing MUPD to make sure that they register their belongings with them, whether that’s a laptop, their bicycle, their car, things like that,” Sewell said. “Make sure they have a friend that they’re with that they can walk back at night to different locations on campus.”
He also recommended services provided by MU.
“Utilizing STRIPES. STRIPES is a service that Mizzou offerers which can help students get a free ride back to the dorm at nighttime Thursday through Saturday,” Sewell said.
Safe and reliable transportation is also a concern of students.
Peyton Hubbard is going to be a fifth year senior studying geological sciences. Hubbard often travels campus via skateboard, which presents a different kind of safety concern.
“ I always try and at least be cognizant of all my surroundings at all times so that I can ensure that I’m not going to hit somebody,” Hubbard said. “I try and think for other people too because I know it’s weird to structure how to walk around skateboarders.
Hubbard has been on campus as a student for a few years, giving him a good feel for how to keep safe on campus.
“Try not be a mindless texter,” Hubbard said. “Although that’s a bad habit in general in life, I feel that it is also sometimes rude or can put you in a harmful situation. Have that situational awareness.”
Officer Jeffrey Pitts, community relations director of the Columbia Police Department,said he is focused on keeping Columbia’s residents safe.
“Columbia police officers are present to ensure the safety,” Pitts said. “For example, if there is a traffic light violation, then the Columbia police officer will stop that car to hold the driver accountable for not following the law.”
After being a patrol officer for a few years, he now works directly in the station. His daily routine is a bit different than the average cop.
“I come in every morning as the public information officer, and I start going through emails that I have gotten throughout the evening and early morning hours,” Pitts said. “ I work on extracting information about previous calls that I can send to journalism students and the media outlets.”
Pitts’ job comes with its benefits.
“One of the perks for me is I am able to give information to the media about different events that happen,” Pitts said. “Obviously, as people, we want to know what’s going on. So by providing the information to the community, we can relay if there’s a safety concern, if there is a rash of burglaries in perhaps a certain area. In that way, it can in turn hopefully keep the residents safe and their property secure.”
In addition to local law enforcement, MU has its own campus police.
“At the university we are kind of an odd duck,” MUPD Officer Jacob Clifford said. “Our powers of arrest come from the state legislature, so we actually have statewide jurisdiction. Our primary reporting responsibility is on campus, but we also own lots of hospitals and clinics around Columbia.”
Although Clifford is a campus officer, his job entitles a lot more than patrolling the university.
“I think we view ourselves more as educators,” Clifford said. “Most of our community is 18-to-22 year olds, and we are all kind of old-school resource officers. We are technically in the patrol division, so we are often out in the cars responding to calls and doing traffic stops, but we also do a lot of educational programming to stay in touch with our community.”
Even with all the resources and safety programs on hand for people throughout the university and surrounding areas of Columbia, some say that the best available resource is the feeling of community at MU.
“It kind of has become home, being here for as long as I have, four and a half years,” Hubbard said. “The community feeling of all the other students — they always talk to you, they always care about your major, your personal experience here. I feel like it’s been a welcoming experience for everyone I’ve met and it’s been so transformative.”
Haley Derdiger is a student at Plano West High School in Plano, Texas.
Daniel Murnin is a student at Rockwood Summit High School in Fenton, Mo.
Caroline Stiff is a student at Franklin High School in El Paso, Texas.
Brook Wang-Swinotek is a student at Lake Park High School in Roselle, Illinois.
Brea Williams is a student at Blue Springs South High School in Blue Springs, Mo.