A recent report by the University’s Department of Public Safety tells two stories, one of progress and another of lingering concerns.
On one hand, Stanford’s cops have made major gains in reducing crime across a swath of categories, including burglaries, liquor law arrests, and drug violations. On the other, 12 students suffered forcible sexual assaults last year, and bike theft remains a major problem on campus.
In fairness, bike theft is extremely difficult to prevent, given the size of our campus and the number of places where such incidents could occur. However, these numbers are completely unacceptable. With all of the resources at this university’s disposal, no Stanford student should have to fear for their safety or for the theft of often-expensive property.
In addition, the Office of Alcohol Policy and Education (OAPE) saw 72 students last year, 59 of whom were underage. The most common referral to OAPE is for intoxication. These incidents are disciplinary actions, and there was a slight uptick from 52 students in 2010 and 61 in 2009. Data on DUIs were not available in the report.
Another interesting tidbit in the report revealed the causes of fires in the past three years. These included a water heater fire, a trash fire, a box of T-shirts left on the stove (Storey), and burning books and paper (FloMo). I’m guessing the frequent popcorn-induced fire alarms were not included in the report; otherwise, they would require their own special section.
Finally, the report provided some useful information that I had never encountered before:
- Apparently, there is a Freshman Emergency Ride Home Program that, according to the report, “provides taxi service back to campus for freshmen who are caught without a ride or are in an emergency situation (within eight miles of campus). Freshmen must pre-register at: http://transportation.stanford.edu/erh, using Yellow Cab of Palo Alto, account # 300-350. For more information, call (650) 321-1234 or (888) 512-1234.” Freshmen get up to four free rides…probably beats waiting for 5-Sure.
The Department for Public Safety teaches a 1-unit Community Police Academy class in winter quarter (LAWGEN 209Q) that, among other things, includes pursuit practice in the driving simulators at The Police Academy in San Jose.
- Public Safety offers free threat or vulnerability assessments of any building, lab, or facility on campus. The assessment entails a walk-through of the building by their personnel with the building or facility manager. For anyone worried about fire hazards, these are your people to call.
Criticisms aside, Public Safety has unquestionably been working hard. Last year, their Records Division took 185 police reports, assisted 9,281 people over the phone, and helped more than 3,354 walk-in customers. A renewed focus on bike theft and forcible sexual assault would go a long way to ensuring that this campus is as safe as it can be.