January 11, 2013 by Op-Ed
Campus safety has constantly been an issue that Drexel has been able to master successfully despite the University’s location in one of the United States’ most dangerous cities. Security magazine ranked Drexel third nationally in public safety in November 2012. The emergency booths found on every block and the readily available Public Safety force contribute to the University’s positive reputation in security. I’ve never yet felt unsafe while walking on the streets of the main campus. However, recent cases have revealed the lack of security within Drexel buildings. While the outer campus has proven itself secure, the interior security of the University is in need of major improvement.
Living and going to school in the city always has its drawbacks, including the need for heightened awareness for the protection of one’s property and self. Even with this knowledge, Drexel’s surveillance and security system is insufficient for its student body. For example, one day in December 2012 one of my friends was rigorously studying for finals in Hagerty Library. He was in the quiet study area on the lower level, Room L01. He left the room for a short study break in order to get a drink from the vending machine. This left his MacBook Pro unattended, although many others were also in the room. He was gone no longer than two minutes, but still came back to his cubicle in the study area to see that his laptop had gone missing. After questioning nearby students to no avail, he contacted Public Safety, which said they would check security camera footage to catch the theft. Yet, the next day, it was revealed that the library contained many cameras that were not functional. None of them actually captured any footage and were used solely to intimidate those who dared to breach the safety of others. There was also one camera in the quiet area stationed in plain view of his cubicle. Had that camera been working, this case could have easily been solved, allowing all involved property to be returned to the rightful owner. However, Public Safety’s inherent negligence for building security led to this unfortunate incident. This raises many security concerns with students who regularly study at the library. And not only does this affect the local environment of Hagerty, but it also brings into question campuswide security claims.
If the most populated academic building on Drexel’s main campus uses such a careless security system, what can be said about the many other buildings on campus that are regularly used for holding class sessions or student services? If the systems aren’t up to par with normal campus standards, a similar incident like what happened at the library can easily occur. Therefore, this mishap has prompted the need to inspect building security across campus in order to ensure this will not happen again.
The obvious solution to this security problem would be to install functional cameras in all campus buildings. However, such a project may take significant time and would require the cooperation of Public Safety outside of Drexel’s control. Administration would have to be contacted, and permits may also become involved. A short-term security measure in the meantime could include briefly checking students’ bags as they leave the library, as is done in the University of Pennsylvania’s Van Pelt library a few blocks away. This can eliminate the removal of any property that is in the hands of the wrong person. In addition, providing laptop locks at the circulation desk could help those students who wish to take precaution in securing their personal items. These small adjustments can eventually lead to further, more impactful improvements in library security, preventing thefts in the future as a consequence.
This instance of theft sheds light on the poor indoor Drexel security while also giving students more reason for caution when leaving their things unattended. I can only hope that Public Safety takes advantage of this incident to capitalize on the opportunity to update the horrendous security issues across all of main campus.
Krunal Patel is a sophomore electrical engineer at Drexel University. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org