By Alveena Siddiqi, News Reporter
Despite recent security issues on Nov. 17 and Jan. 22, EC continues to rank among the safest college campuses in Illinois for 2018.
Niche.com, a popular educational ranking and review site, has ranked EC as the fourth safest college campus in Illinois for 2018; just behind Greeneville University, Eureka College, and Olivet Nazarene University.
The results of Niche’s safety rankings are determined by a statistical analysis of each college’s reported campus crime rate, local crime rate, residence hall date violence rate, residence hall rape rate, alcohol-related arrests, drug-related arrests, and survey responses about student perception of campus safety.
The ranking follows recent campus security issues, including the entry of an intruder into a student’s room in Cureton Hall on Nov. 17, as well as a carjacking targeting the parent of a student near Memorial Hall on Jan. 22.
Marc Molina, executive director of EC’s Office of Campus Security, does not believe that these events indicate any increase in danger on campus. “I do not believe that Elmhurst is being targeted necessarily,” Molina said in an email interview with The Leader.
“We have to recognize that we are a suburb within one of the largest metropolitan areas in the U.S., and we are situated in one of the best and safest communities in the area,” he added. “We are well-known and frequently visited by people who are otherwise not affiliated with the college.”
Molina also clarified that the intrusion into Cureton Hall was a result of a mistake by someone on campus rather than a failure of any security protocol.
“For clarification,” he said, “the situation at Cureton Hall was not a break-in, but rather a situation where someone from the campus community allowed this individual into the residence hall by opening the door for them and allowing them to enter. After tailgating additional students up to the resident floors and into hallways, he appears to have sought out unlocked doors, and he evidently found some.”
He added that following these events, “Campus Security has increased vehicle and foot patrols on campus by uniformed officers, and we continue to provide active patrols to the parking lots and remote areas of campus.”
Many EC residential students have felt that the recent incidents are isolated events rather than an indication of increased danger on campus, and do not feel any less safe on campus than usual.
EC senior Jonathan Alfonseca felt that EC is as safe as it’s always been. “I would say these incidents are the exception rather than the rule,” he said.
However, Alfonseca did have a suggestion to help in catching those who decide to commit crimes on campus.
“The only thing that I think security could add is more CCTV cameras. There are very few on campus,” Alfonseca said. “They’re not necessarily useful for stopping crime, just recording it and making the identification of suspects easier.”
EC freshman Annbelle Bahbna told The Leader that despite being more cautious about locking her dorm after the intrusion, she is satisfied with Campus Security’s efforts.
“One of the first things I looked at when I was deciding on where to go [to college] was safety,” she said. “Honestly, with the intruder in the dorms last semester, I feel that it was more on whoever let the person into the building, and it’s on students to be cautious about locking their doors. I’ve seen security do their rounds, and they’re doing great with that.”
While all students interviewed said that they did not feel EC was any less safe after these events, several female students expressed a greater sense of caution on campus, in general, than their male peers.
“I guess as a woman on campus I’m always a little bit more worried than, I feel like, some of the men on campus, especially walking around at night,” said EC senior Amanda Mitch.
EC senior Mandy Moore elaborated that such caution is not necessarily a result of Elmhurst’s campus environment, but rather, a sense of general concern for safety that most women feel anywhere. “I don’t think I feel any less safe. Sometimes, if it’s late at night and you’re walking back from somewhere, you get a little freaked out, but I think that’s the case with anywhere.”
“If [security] could be doing anything more, they could put one of the blue emergency lights closer to the center of campus, just in case, but because Elmhurst overall is one of the safest communities, these incidents, I think they’re just isolated,” Moore continued.
The Leader also reached out to EC President Troy VanAken, who had the following statement about campus safety in the face of the recent campus incidents:
“The safety and security of our campus is one of our highest priorities. The recent incidents created serious concerns and we were fortunate that nobody was seriously harmed. In each case, I have been pleased with the immediate response by our campus security and Elmhurst City Police. In addition, I appreciate Campus Security and Elmhurst City Police increasing both marked and unmarked patrols in response to the incidents.”