When searching for a college to spend the next four years of a person’s life, safety is one of the more important factors that both students and parents search for. Questions such as “Will my child be safe?” and “Will their belongings be safe?” are all floating around in their heads.
Individuals have differing opinions on the safety of Bradley University’s campus. On some opinionated websites, the university is said to be ranking lower in safety while the campus is ranked fairly high on the safety scale on other sites.
During 2019 and 2020, there was a spike in armed robberies close to campus.
In an article written by CIProud – the online domain of WMBD-TV – in 2020, there were accounts from two students about another student getting approached by someone claiming they had a gun from an attempted robbery.
One student said that it was a scary situation because the armed suspects managed to make their way onto the campus near student apartment complexes and Bradley Hall.
After the incidents occurred, University Communications sent out an announcement with the main message being to not walk alone at night.
The announcement included a list of safety resources and programs that the university was putting into place. Some of the programs included were expanding the hours of operation for the Hilltop Safety Cruisers, safety alerts shared with campus through emails, Twitter, Facebook and on the school’s webpage along with student patrol and BUPD escorts.
This is not the only time that a perpetrator has made their way onto campus. In fall of 2021, now-sophomore mechanical engineering major, Ali Eickhoff, was followed back to campus.
Eickhoff had cut someone off as she pulled onto University Street and the suspect decided to follow her back in their vehicle before driving off as she parked in the Duryea Parking Deck.
Once Eickhoff left the deck, the suspect snuck in and found her car. That’s when they keyed not only the side doors of the vehicle, but the hood as well.
“The next day, I was going to work off campus and I noticed scratches on the side of my car,” Eickhoff said. “After further examination, I realized they had keyed every side of my car including the hood.”
Eickhoff reported the incident to the Bradley University Police Department but at the time, there were no cameras in the parking deck which meant the suspect never got caught and she was left with $6,000 in damages.
“There was about $6,000 in body damage to my car,” Eickhoff said, “Since I have car insurance, I only had to pay $500.”
Parking garage cameras are very common and with the amount of car thefts increasing on campus (from three in 2020 to four in 2021), BUPD installed its own cameras just this semester after the pandemic pushed back installation.
“There were a handful of incidents that happened in the parking garages or near the parking garages that made us prioritize the installation of those particular security cameras,” Bradley University Police Chief Brian Joschko said.
However, while that may help deter the problems in the parking garage, it does not stop the problem of non-Bradley affiliated suspects being able to get onto campus. A few instances this year included a former student sneaking into Olin Hall to try and find a professor and a suspect sneaking into Main Street Commons by just following someone in.
Joschko said the incident that happened at Main Street Commons was something called ‘tailgating.’ Tailgating in this sense means someone following another person through a door without them knowing.
“Part of the challenge that we have with all of our facilities is making sure that there is awareness of the students; that they don’t accidentally let somebody in behind them,” Joschko said. “Either holding the door for someone they don’t know or accidentally just walk through a door and not watch it close behind them.”
One of the ways that BUPD is trying to reduce the amount of incidents of tailgating or allowing someone into the building is creating different levels of security. These levels include an exterior door, ID scan and individual room keys.
There are extra safety measures on campus including self defense lessons. BUPD hosts classes for both students and staff to learn about how to keep themselves protected. The next class is scheduled for Nov. 19th at 4 p.m. in Room 017 in Markin.