“College is the best time of your life.”
This is a statement that students starting university have heard dozens, if not hundreds, of times. And it can be true. There are opportunities to learn, grow and make new friends and memories. But there are also risks that come with this new environment.
Near Auburn University, John Carr, an officer with Signal of Birmingham, was working his usual night shift at an apartment complex near campus when he noticed a woman being carried by a man. After approaching the man, he checked on the woman and found her unconscious. He immediately called 911 and after they took the woman to the hospital, they found she had a near-lethal dose of GHB, also known as the date rape drug, in her system.
“What John did is really phenomenal,” said Tony Mauro, CEO of Signal of Birmingham, which services apartments on and around Auburn’s campus. “He saw something that didn’t seem right, and he intervened and didn’t know it at the time but probably saved her life.”
Residence halls and off-campus apartments can pose a threat to this peace of mind. In 2019 there were 806 robberies* and 2,154 assaults* reported on college campuses across the country. Statistics like these don’t factor in off-campus housing, which can’t rely on on-campus police departments.
“On campus, they have the university police, but even they have limited budgets,” said Mauro. “Private properties don’t get to leverage the campus police; they have to rely on the municipality. They have multiple beats to work, and it just isn’t reliable to think they’ll be able to respond quickly.”
Security on off-campus properties can prevent all kinds of issues, from small disturbances to larger, more serious crimes. Mauro says that, fortunately, major incidents like the one Officer Carr prevented aren’t a typical issue at most off-campus apartments.
“Normally we’re just there breaking up crowds, making sure there’s no peace being disturbed,” he said. “Occasionally we’ll see some inappropriate behavior, public intoxication, things like that. But this is the first instance like this I’ve seen.”
When students decide between moving to off-campus housing or living in a residence, safety is often a deciding factor for staying on campus. Increasing the visibility and amount of security on off-campus properties will increase peace of mind for the current and potential future residents and improve safety for off-campus communities.
“Events like this underscore the value we can offer to properties,” Mauro said. “These students are 18 to 22-year-old young people and they’re sitting in classrooms and they’re vulnerable. When we take what we’re doing seriously and are vigilant it doesn’t take a lot to make an impact.”
Signal services hundreds of apartment complexes across the country. Learn more about what we offer and how we can provide peace of mind to your campus community on our website.