Following the death of Misrach Ewunetie, how can campuses improve student safety?

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Photo of Princeton University. Photo by Tim Alex/Unsplash.

One week ago, the body of a 20-year-old Princeton student, Mirach Ewunetie, was found on the facilities grounds by the tennis courts near the edge of the Princeton’s campus, after being missing for six days.

As Princeton University grieves this immense tragedy, schools across the nation are now facing the question of how to solidify student safety on their campuses and prevent situations similar to Ewunetie’s.

After keeping students off campus during the COVID-19 period, the wave of new students attending classes on campus U.S. universities is a situation that many schools anticipated, but are still looking for ways to improve safety and ensure the most comfortable environment.

There is a constant chaos of people traveling on and off campus, especially at commuter campuses like UNLV. There’s also the additional element of UNLV’s campus being in the center of a high-density homelesness and crime rate city.

“My experience working so far has been really good,” said Lauren Miller-Alvarado, a Criminal Justice major employed as a UNLV student cadet.

Miller-Alvarado said that the role of campus security is, “to ensure that we keep an eye out for anyone who is injured or if someone is doing a misdemeanor for the protection of others.”

“Some ways to stay safe are to get a ‘weapon’ for protection. Something like, a pocket knife, pepper spray, and others,” Miller-Alvarado said. “There are also classes for self defense or other ways of fighting out there that can help you defend yourself.” 

Miller-Alvarado additionally suggested utilizing panic buttons around campus if needed. These buttons call the police if students ever feel threatened or unsafe. She also mentioned that students may use the RebelSAFE app to send in requests for help.

As of today, UNLV offers a multitude of safety and emergency training including CPR training, the Ride-Along program and Girls on Guard

However, essential supplies that everyone could carry to increase their chances of staying safe in an unexpected situation include basic survival supplies such as a first aid kit, whistle and contact card with family member and out-of-state phone numbers.

Often, students are most vulnerable when walking on campus alone at night. According to University Police Services (UPD), if one is walking on their own, they should stay in well lit areas (away from bushes and alleyways) and hold their belongings close without additional valuables, if possible.

Since UNLV had many incidents of danger on or near campus, such as homeless people running into Dayton this fall (the freshman dorm complex), a man breaking into a UCC dorm by shattering the windows last March and a Las Vegas patrol officer killed this October, there is much room for improvement.

To improve security (particularly at night) for students of UNLV, the university would serve well to employ professionally trained security in front of dorm complexes, in addition to the police cars that constantly patrol the campus every night.

Not only would increasing security on campus alleviate some of the stress students hold when walking at night but it would also likely reduce the number of homeless people sleeping on campus, thus improving UNLV’s reputation.

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