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Students Debate Purpose of Campus Emergency System

Saint Vincent College reports low incidents of crime on campus, as evidenced by the Annual Security Report, but students question whether the emergency buttons impact these statistics.

The presence of the emergency messaging system on campus in the form of red buttons placed on the walkway to Saint Benedict Hall and Rooney Hall and in the campus parking lots, are meant to deter or stop crime on campus, Sgt. Stephanie Fago, director of Public Safety, explained.

When the emergency button is pressed, Public Safety is called immediately to help the student, she continued. The officer is informed of the specific location of the callbox housing the button that was pressed.

Julia Planchon, sophomore biochemistry major, believes that the buttons are ultimately useless against an actual crime on campus.

“If something bad were to happen on campus, I don’t think that pressing an emergency button would do anything to actually help the situation,” Planchon said, adding that the only reason that the emergency system isn’t a problem is because there’s no crime at the college.

Planchon also questioned the effectiveness of Public Safety officers in the event of an emergency.

“I don’t think Public Safety would get there quickly if a crime were in progress,” she said. “I don’t have much faith in the buttons because I know that Public Safety would be behind the call if I pressed one.”

When asked for her opinion on the number of buttons on campus, Planchon revealed that she would not feel more secure with more buttons in different locations, due to the lack of crime to begin with.

“If crime incidents rose on campus, I would be worried because I don’t think our emergency system is effective, but I don’t know what we could do to fix it,” Planchon said.

Lee Strauss, sophomore psychology major, agreed that the buttons may be useful in certain situations, but overall, their actual effectiveness is a murky subject.

“We have basically no crime on campus, but in an actual emergency, I don’t know how well our system would work,” Strauss stated.

Strauss said that Public Safety’s response time is lackluster and that their presence does not reassure him.

“I feel like I could literally be waving at [Public Safety] and they still wouldn’t see me or care,” he said.

On the topic of the number of buttons and their locations, Strauss stated that Saint Vincent could benefit from more buttons on campus.

“We need more buttons, like on the path to Gerard [Hall] and around other residence halls. Two locations isn’t enough,” Strauss stated.

Strauss added that the walk to Gerard Hall, where he lives, is short but can be scary.

The Review has not heard back from Fago regarding questions of the effectiveness of the buttons, why the specific button locations were chosen, what students should do if they cannot stay near the call box during an emergency and others.

Seton Hill University in Greensburg has similar rates of crime as Saint Vincent College, but there is no mention of an emergency button system as a part of their Campus Safety system on their school website. They do, however, have 24-hour police patrolling on campus.

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