WCU’s campus safety initiative

In collaboration with Dustin George

With a record enrollment of 10,106 students and an estimated growing population, it can be hard to keep up with every detail or rule break that occurs daily.

According to the WCU campus police website, between 2010- 2012 there has been a total of 70 Burglaries, 12 forcible sex violations and four aggravated assaults on campus with the highest number of arrests totaling up to 220 for drug and liquor law violations combined.

But with campaigns such as Red Zone, V-Day (Vagina Monologues), self–defense classes and other efforts, a slow but steady rise of change is happening across Western’s campus.

SGA Campus Safety Initiative

Student body President Ryan Hermance and the Student Government Association have been teaming up with the campus police and Red Zone, a sexual assault awareness program, along with the possibility to join other organizations to create a bigger plan that he thinks will bring WCU to the level of safety that the students want.

“I generally believe that Western is a safe campus compared to other universities in North Carolina, but there have been several students who have expressed a concern of there being a lack of lighting and the distance between blue phones. Though SGA can’t offer more lighting or blue phones, we can try to offer other alternatives, so that they can feel safer while they’re walking around campus and have a greater sense of security”, said Hermance.

Check out video below for student feedback:


The university plans to add more emergency blue call boxes in addition to the 23 that can be found all over campus.

“There are too few blue lights, especially in the least lit areas,” said Sarah Boggs, a WCU student.

There will also be an increase in forums on gun safety and weapons, separate self-defense classes for men and women, and awareness promotion through campus safety walks and programs coordinated by the Department of Intercultural Affairs.

WCJ tried to get in contact with a representative from the Department of Intercultural Affairs but by the time of publishing  got no response.

Together SGA, WCU campus police Chief Ernie Hudson, Chancellor Belcher and Vice Chancellor Sam Miller have secured  a fund for the cause and this will help students to voice their concerns, share and bring to life the ideas that they have as well as allow them to get involved in helping to make Western a safer place to be

Campus Police

Campus Police is a resource that many are aware of but may not know what they have to offer to them. Established in the 1960’s campus police offers a variety of services for students who have been

Campus Police Chief Ernie Hudson. Photo by WCU

assaulted, victims of hate crimes and even relationship violence.

“I reported stalking to the campus police and wasn’t expecting to be taken seriously. They actually took me very seriously and were very helpful and thorough with what steps I could take legally and for my own safety,” explained Boggs.

Sgt. Tammy Ammons-Hagberg is the head of Victim Services, a support service where she works cooperatively with the Office of Student Affairs, Psychological Services, Health Services and many

more to help the victim recover from personal crimes.

As of Oct. 1, 2013, guns are allowed on campus in locked cars to permitted gun holders. This has led many students to question the other types of weapons that are allowed on campus. According to Chief Hudson, guns are a concern to him and how they’re handling them is hard to say right now but the department will be offering forums with SGA on how this change will affect students and answer any questions they have regarding the use of their guns.

“Of course were concerned. There’s more mis-information than information out there, it doesn’t mean that if something happens on campus you can run to your car and get your weapon,” Chief Hudson said.

As far as what weapons students can have on campus besides guns, pepper spray (not mace) is allowed, as well as small knives.

The campus police have a set list of suggestions that students should follow to ensure their safety on campus. Here are some of them:

Take responsibility for your own security.

Make sure that residence hall doors are locked during prescribed hours. If not, tell your RA.

Lock your room door at all times. It only takes seconds for items to disappear.

If you lose a key, report it immediately.

Mark your property, specifically items like books and other small high value property. Use your driver’s license number or your student ID number, and mark everything.

Record serial numbers of your stereo equipment, televisions, and appliances.

Valuables in your vehicle should be placed out of sight; under the seat or in the trunk.

Report crimes and suspicious activity immediately by calling the WCU Police Department at 911.

Be aware of your surroundings, others who are around you, and any dark areas where someone might be hiding.

Be alert to potential danger. If it doesn’t look right or feel right, trust your instincts.

Anticipate possible problems and know where campus emergency and pay phones are located. Note: Emergency phones on campus can be identified by a blue light on top

Have your keys out and ready before reaching your door or vehicle.

Related stories:

Student charged with sexual battery, other crimes

Role of campus police in sexual assault cases criticized

Crime wave hits campus

Sexual assault a silent epidemic