By Aaniyah Hakeen
Although living alone has its perks, it can be intimidating. A senior English major who lives in the University Courtyard Apartments said there are safety tips she finds essential for her well-being.
Anne Vallas said as soon as she’s situated in her room, she bolts and locks the door and windows.
“Living alone and being a cute female student is a double threat, so I usually cover all of my bases,” Vallas said.
Shawn Varso, Youngstown State University’s police chief, said students who live alone shouldn’t make it look like they live by themselves. This can be accomplished by keeping the lights on and making it look like there is activity in the house or apartment.
By doing so, students lessen their chance of being targeted by potential threats.
“Don’t make it look like nobody’s there. That’s one of the things criminals look for when they try to break in: somewhere they don’t think somebody’s home,” Varso said.
When there appears to be activity in a residence, intruders are deterred from entering for fear of detection, according to Varso.
“If you’re living in an apartment, keep an eye out for safety problems, like if the front door on the apartment doesn’t lock, if there’s lights out in the hallways or stairwells and if there’s people hanging around, let your landlord know,” he said.
Vallas said she always makes sure to live on the third floor of a housing complex.
“[It’s] just high enough where a person would avoid climbing, even attempting anything; or should they, I’ll push them out,” Vallas said.
Varso said being aware of one’s surroundings will also decrease the opportunities for criminal activity to occur.
“One of the big things is don’t open your door if you don’t know the person. If someone is knocking on your door saying they’re with the utility company or salesperson, make them show you identification first,” he said.
Vallas said she makes sure she is on the phone when walking alone at night to appear as less of a target.
Varso also said being knowledgeable about who is coming and going within the building ensures that unusual activity will be noticed.
“Common-sense stuff, just make sure you’re aware of problems situationally and that you always have your head on a swivel,” Varso said.
YSU Office of Housing & Residence Life officials also are investing in ways to keep students safe.
Kelly Beers, director of housing, said one aspect that has changed this year is the key protocol. Students must have both a proximity card for entry from the exterior of their building and a key to their room.
Proximity, or “prox,” cards are magnetic keys which require little to no touch when entering as well as exiting buildings and were implemented two years ago on campus.
Beers said some cases occurred where students were not following policy.
“Unfortunately, we had a couple incidents where students would come to the desk and staff members knew they lived there but didn’t necessarily know which room and sometimes students would ask for a key to a different room,” she said.
Housing officials removed all spare keys from the residence halls and moved them to the central office where they can be properly monitored.
“It’s a much tighter protocol in terms of checking out keys,” Beers said.
She said housing facilities also chose to make upgrades to further student safety.
“We also have security cameras in all of the buildings that just went through an upgrade over winter break.”