The Triangle - The Independent Student Newspaper at Drexel University

Drexel named one of nation’s safest campuses

Drexel University was ranked sixth in the nation for safety among colleges and universities for 2011 bySecurity Magazine in its annual Security 500 Report released in November.

Drexel’s rank on the list dropped for the first time in several years after falling two places from 2010’s No. 4 rank. Prior to that, the University had been steadily climbing the list by seven places in 2009 and 41 places in 2008.

Jim Tucker, Senior Vice President for Student Life and Administrative Services, said he was proud that Drexel made Security Magazine’s top 10 list for campus security for the second year in a row.

“I am very proud that the men and women of Drexel Public Safety are being recognized on a national level for all they do to keep the University and the surrounding community safe,” Tucker said. “Between developing a top-notch police department, expanding our reach into the community, implementing a state-of-the-art communications center and earning international accreditation, Drexel Public Safety has made great strides over the last few years to keep up with the continued growth of the University and the challenges of an urban campus environment.”

The Security 500 Report’s methodology for ranking relies heavily on four key statistics collected through a survey completed by the colleges and universities or by data available through public record. The four statistics are broken down through the amount of security spending per person and per revenue and the amount of security officers per employee and per facility.

Domenic Ceccanecchio, the senior associate vice president for public safety at Drexel, was personally profiled by Security Magazine as one of the top security leaders of 2011.

“We’re committed to providing the best safety and security possible,” Ceccanecchio said. “We really want to be proactive, especially with respect to our outreach to the community as part of President Fry’s goal of being one of the most civically engaged universities in the country. We have a part to play in that, and our mission is to achieve that goal.”

Drexel is one of only two Pennsylvania universities to be ranked by Security Magazine, along with the University of Pennsylvania, which ranked at No. 1 in the United States for the fifth consecutive year.

Andrew Buss, a junior  chemistry major at Drexel, didn’t agree that the ranking accurately reflected Drexel’s public safety.

“I feel like it’s a farce because it always seems like the effect is to make you feel safe rather than to actually make you safe,” Buss said. “Sometimes the campus safety people kind of seem oaf-y. I’m not sure if push came to shove and they were supposed to protect you, would they really step up to the plate? They kind of just ride around on their bikes all day.”

According to Drexel University’s Department of Public Safety, the Drexel Police Department provides 24/7 patrols with 34 full-time sworn municipal police officers certified through the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Municipal Police Officers Education and Training Commission (MPOETC).

Caitlin Porter, a pre-junior psychology major at Drexel, said she often feels unsafe in her early-morning walks to the Drexel Armory, where she participates in ROTC physical training several days a week.

“I’m going to be honest — I don’t feel safe, and it’s usually in the very early mornings when I go to PT. I know this is West Philadelphia, but I shouldn’t have to look over my shoulder when I am walking in the morning, and I do,” Porter said. “On paper it looks fantastic, but in reality it’s not really that safe. I don’t feel safe at all.”

One Wednesday morning, Porter was walking along Powelton Avenue when three men began walking behind her.

“It was early, and I was by myself. They were three obviously homeless people, and they were getting closer and closer behind me,” Porter said. “It was scary, and I was feeling really uncomfortable because they were obviously not sober and saying really crass things and being very loud.”

Porter said there was a public safety officer not too far off standing on the street corner.

“I kept looking at him, but he didn’t even look over at me,” Porter said. “I just kept walking briskly and nothing happened, but I wonder if, God forbid, the men had done something, would the security guy even have noticed or done anything? It’s not even an unreasonable time to be out. People get up at that time and start their day to go to co-op or practice or PT. But I have to look over my shoulder.”

Law enforcement authority is present at all three of Drexel University’s Philadelphia campuses: University City Main Campus, Center City Hahnemann Campus and Queen Lane Medical Campus.