Campus Safety Resource Utilization: Student Perspectives

UC Berkeley students remain on campus late into the evening for a variety of reasons. Some have classes. Others attend events and organization meetings. Many study at libraries, especially when midterms and finals are approaching. Thus, important questions emerge: Do they feel safe walking home? And do they utilize campus safety resources?

When speaking with three students, I learned that they avoided walking on campus at night — and if they had, they did not feel safe. Anashe Barton, a junior majoring in Legal Studies, said, “I try not to be on campus late or make sure I walk with friends when I am.” Similarly, Karla Altamirano said, “No, I don’t feel safe at night.” Both seemed to carry with them their own personal safety measures: carrying pepper spray, having their phones unlocked and ready to call for help, utilizing the buddy system, and so on. Not feeling safe at night doesn’t appear to be an uncommon phenomenon on campus.

When asked whether they utilized campus safety resources, a few stated that they used them occasionally. Sydney Lee, a junior, explained, “I Uber or Lyft. I sometimes take shuttles, but they require a longer wait than simply Ubering.” Altamirano also commented, saying, “I use the Night Safety Shuttle because it’s free and helpful to take when traveling around campus, but it does take a long time to pick up students at night sometimes.” Long waiting periods appeared to deter students from utilizing UC Berkeley’s night safety resources; if a student is waiting for a shuttle or safety officer and night, he or she may feel unsafe in the location he or she is in and decide not to wait. Waiting in the dark can be just as scary as walking in the dark.

So what can be done? Additional or more efficient safety shuttles could decrease the amount of time needed for students to wait, encouraging additional usage. Further, the campus should think about adding more lighting to campus. Lee proposed that “our campus needs more lights. At night, I would be less afraid of walking through campus if it [were] well lit-up.” If UC Berkeley increased the area of well-lit places on campus, students may feel safer and more secure being on campus during evening hours or while waiting for a campus safety shuttle.

If you are a student and have to be on campus in the evening or walk around Berkeley at night, consider using available campus resources. UC Berkeley’s campus is, by no means, crime-free, as illustrated by U.S. News and World Report’s breakdown of crimes on campus. From 7:30 a.m. to 3:00 a.m., you can take a safety shuttle at specific stops around campus. From 3:00 a.m. to 5:30 a.m., you can catch a ride with the door-to-door safety service offered. Finally, Bearwalk is a program available starting at dusk and ending at 3:00 a.m. that has community service officers personally walk students short distances. More information on these resources can be found here.

There are also personal measures you can take in combination with the campus resources mentioned above. Walk in groups, or at least with one other person; stay alert of your surroundings and remain distraction-free; consider carrying defensive tools like pepper spray; and stay in well-lit areas.