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Wednesday,November 25,2020
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How Safe Is the Campus?

  

   
 
  ▲ The Department of Police Administration and the Seoul Jungbu Police Station cooperate and form Campus Police team to patrol the campus and the housing area.  

/Photography  from Campus Police

   The school has started; the campus is full of students and has become lively again. On the other hand, this is also when the school’s biggest concern arises: the issue of safety and security. In order to keep the campus and the housing area safe, many universities introduced Campus Police programs, the patrolling services of student volunteers, and the police around the school’s particular district. Dongguk University is also enrolling up. However, many students have very little information about school’s effort to secure the campus and about the fact that such services are being provided by outside of the campus.

   As for the main security system, Dongguk has a computer alarm system: SECOM from a company called S1. This makes sure that all the doors in the buildings are secure and rings alarm if there is something significant to report. Additionally, school hired security guards to patrol around the campus. A total of 39 guards are scheduled to patrol each part of the school and they rotate when their shifts are up. One security team consists of three people, which makes 13 teams in total. Yet, this does not mean that 39 patrolmen are always positioned to go because some of them could be on vacation or absent for illness. According to Cho Sung-hwan, a member from General Affairs, the system which Dongguk has is actually one of the top security services among the universities in Seoul. He also added, “The system is limited to campus area. Other than the fact that the guards patrol 24/7, we cannot provide more measures for safety issues.”

   Meanwhile, efforts from outside of the school are also being made. The Department of Police Administration and the Seoul Jungbu Police Station cooperate to improve the environment around the housing area where many students live by themselves in studio apartments. The Campus Police is actually not a new concept; the school has had this program for few years, opened to all the students. However, at one point the school did not approve the service hour and that is when students lost their interests to participate.  Chae Sang-uk, chief of the Jangchung Police Substation pointed out, “When I first came here, the public peace issue was very big. Residents and students who lived in studio had many concerns, but there was not action taken to solve the problems. So I suggested doing Campus Police again to the Department of Police Administration in March.” A total of 70 students participate, with one team consisting of four students. From Monday to Friday, 9 P.M. to 12 A.M., three teams patrol their designated areas. Except on Thursdays, when students patrol with police officers from Jangchung Police Substation, they do it on their own for the safety of residents and the students.

   According to Jangchung Police Substation, the presence of the Campus Police has significantly reduced the crime rate compared to last year. During last year, from January to August, the number of reported crime cases was a total of 15: 10 cases of theft (seven from the school and three from the housing area), three cases of violence (two from the school and one from the housing area), and two violations of the juvenile protection act (all from the housing area). Thanks to the hard work, the number of reported crime cases this year, from January to August, was a total of five: theft three (all from school) and violence two (one from school and one from housing area). This shows a 71.4 percent reduction of the crime rate.

   Along with such attempts, Jangchung Substation is preparing to launch more programs. Chief Chae stressed, “The goal of second half-year is to make the housing area a form of clean area from crimes. In order to do so, a lot of effort is also needed from the local government.” He said that he discovered many problems inside of the studio buildings since the young students live alone and there is no separation of sex on the same floor. Chief also added, “The prevention of crime would be successful if the owners of the studio building care for students like their mother.” Not only making a contract with the local government regarding crime prevention but also the fire prevention education will be held. “Since numerous buildings are closely located around the housing area, the potential damage from a fire accident could be even bigger. Training and being alert to those subjects are very important,” said Chief.

   The school is also preparing to upgrade the computer security system next year, yet nothing is significant even though some problems still remain. According to Cho, there might be some gaps between the rotations of patrolling since there are not enough workers. He continued, “Some students complain about why no guard is positioned in each building when they need their help. That is because there are only 39 workers in total. Considering the size of the campus and the number of students, it is not enough to station them at one place.” Moreover, a lack of communication between the school and the police station causes problems. The school has no statistics of crime rate on campus while only police station keeps track, which can be a reason for school to neglect the security issues in the future. In addition, since there is no relationship between the two, many students report directly to the police when crime happens, which is inefficient for both. Such environment pushes the school to stay in a position where it only provides CCTV data to police, not playing an important role about school’s safety and security as a consequence.

   Then what would be an ideal example to follow? New York University, which has one of the best security programs in the States, takes the safety and security issue very carefully. There is a department in school called, “Public Safety” which deals with every problem regarding the campus’ safety concerns. This department hires only certified officers and its online website provides a lot of information. For example, it has safety tips for students and keeps the reported cases updated, so that all the students can be aware of such incidents. Also on campus, it provides emergency call boxes and green light buildings for students to be safe quickly. Including all such information and reports, it opens the annual campus security report for everyone.

   It is a fact that Korea has a much lower crime rate, compared to other countries like U.S.A. However, it does not mean that it is totally safe. In order to maintain this low rate, it is crucial to invest on prevention and education for emergency. Even though the school and the police work hard to improve the environment for students, many problems still exist. Building the bridges to communicate efficiently would be the very first step to the progress. Cho noted, “We are trying out our best according to the funds available. I am sure the campus would be much safer if students also be part of these efforts. Please call 2260-3556 for emergency and report if you witness anything unusual.”

Lee Seo-yeon  sullylee0516@dongguk.edu

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