By Stephanie Stanavich
Shawn Varso, Youngstown State University’s police chief, said crime rates on campus have been low over the last few years.
“We do have an excellent safety record here at the university, and we’re always looking for ways to improve,” Varso said.
He said there have been a few major situations, but crimes usually consist of robberies or nonthreatening aggravated assault reports.
“Most of our crime tends to be single theft,” Varso said. “But it’s pretty much stayed steady the last few years.”
The officers try to stay in areas on campus where they are seen, Varso said. They want their presence to be known, not only to individuals looking for trouble, but also to students who want to feel comfortable and safe.
“We’re looking for situations where students are walking by themselves,” Varso said. “We make sure that they are getting to their vehicles safely.”
Many students walk to class, athletes walk to practice early in the morning or late at night and employees walk to work on campus.
Freshman Alexys Joshua has worked on campus at Wee Care Daycare Learning Center for six months. Her shift begins at 5:30 a.m. when it is still dark out. She said she doesn’t always feel safe.
“I have to park so far from my work in the morning,” Joshua said. “It’s still pitch black out, and its nerve wracking for a 19-year-old girl.”
There have been a few uneasy situations, she said.
“There was a guy behind me,” she said. “He walked a little faster, never passing me, but enough where I could hear him walking, and it was just uncomfortable and scary.”
Sarina Mauerman is on the women’s track and field team at YSU. She has had practice as early as 6 a.m. and has left as late at 8 p.m. She said she’s never dealt with an uncomfortable situation, but she doesn’t feel 100 percent safe.
“You never know what can happen, but I always see parking services or the police in the parking lots I park in so that makes me feel safer,” Mauerman said.
Mauerman does not have very far to walk for practice, but she did make a few suggestions to improve campus safety from a student’s perspective.
“I think YSU could install more of the emergency buttons on campus or have athletes be aware of the escort services provided by campus security,” Mauerman said.
Varso said they have a daily report of what is going on at the university, so they can make sure they are in certain areas during events. Many YSU may also be unaware of the Student Security Service offered on campus.
“It provides escorts in the evening during the week but they’re only here until 10:30, so if a student feels unsafe past that time or have a concern they can call our office,” he said.
Those who are concerned can provide security with their school schedule, and services will be waiting for them when they get out of class, practice, or work and escort them safely.
“Our officers are more than happy to escort them to wherever they need to go,” Varso said.