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[Fresh] Staying Safe on Campus

Interview with Debbie Patch, The Office of Public Safety


Fresh@News: As the second semester moves along, do you have any safety tips for students?


D.P. During this time of the year, many students get into a comfortable mode and become less cautious with their belongings.  As the weather gets nicer, more students will begin to keep their doors open and unlocked.  We encourage students to remember some of the basic safety tips, so they can avoid being victims to crime.  For example, resident students should not prop open the doors to the buildings, they should keep their doors shut and locked when they are out of the room, and also they should never leave their belongings (such as laptops and backpacks) unattended in open areas.  These are simple things that most students are already doing.


Fresh@News:  Often, parents are interested in the health and safety of their students on campus.  Can you tell me a little about how the Office of Public Safety creates a safe environment?


D.P.  Our department performs the daily patrol of the campus.  The goal of the department is to educate students about personal safety and crime prevention.  We have an anonymous tip line for students who witness crimes such as vandalism on campus.  The tip line has been helpful in identifying the culprit in many cases.  The Public Safety website is a great resource for students and parents.  Students can find information and online forms on the site, in addition to the campus crime statistics.


Fresh@News: You talked about safety in the residence halls.  Does the Public Safety work with Residence Life staff?


D.P. Each year, our office works closely with the RA staff.  Currently, we are participating in the RA training for the newly selected staff.  We will continue to work with the staff throughout the summer.  During the school year, the RA is often the primary contact person when there is a problem in the hall.  The RAs work with the housing officers that are stationed within the buildings.  As I mentioned earlier, our staff also performs daily patrol of the campus, including the residence halls.


Fresh@News:  What is a housing officer?

D.P. A housing officer is actually a Public Safety officer who monitors visitation and maintains a fixed position in the residence halls from 10:30 p.m. to 6:30 a.m., with the exception of the West Campus apartments.  Everyone who enters the building must show identification.  All of the female residence halls have housing offices.  Many of the co-ed residence halls also have housing officers.  We also have officers that patrol all of the residence halls during the evenings and on the weekends.


Fresh@News: Can you tell me about the Wildcat shuttle?

D.P. The Wildcat shuttle provides on and off campus transportation for students.  The shuttle performs an on campus loop Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.  There is also a daily shuttle off campus to places such as Rosemont Square, downtown Bryn Mawr and Rosemont College.  The shuttle runs a limited route in the evenings and on the weekends.  There is also a shuttle to the King of Prussia Mall that also operates on Fridays and Saturdays between 6 p.m. and midnight.  The shuttle service does not operate during break periods.  Students can find the shuttle schedule on the Public Safety web site. 


Fresh@News:  The RAD self-defense program for women seems to be very popular.  Can you tell me more about it?

D.P.  RAD is an acronym for Rape Aggression Defense.  The RAD program was started by a law enforcement office who wanted to teach women basic self-defense techniques.  The techniques are easy to remember and very practical.  The RAD program at Villanova is a series of workshops that educate women about sexual assault and teaches them how to protect themselves.  As an instructor in the program, we talk about risk reduction and ways to avoid risks.  The women leave the program feeling empowered and are more aware of their surroundings.  The program is very effective and the participants have the opportunity to do a real life simulation to test their knowledge. 


Fresh@News:  It sounds like a great opportunity for female students.  Is there a cost for the program?

D.P. We ask for a $15 refundable deposit at the beginning of the class.  When the student completes the course, we will refund the money.


Fresh@News:  Nine hours seems like a big commitment for students?  How is the attendance?

D.P.  Although it may seem like a lot of time, the information these women learn is invaluable.  We are very flexible and try to work with the students’ schedules to find a time that works with everyone in the class.  Often, a group of friends will sign up together. They really enjoy going through the program together practicing techniques with one another.


Fresh@News:  You’ve provided a lot of information about Public Safety.  If you had to give any advice to parents, what would you tell them?

D.P.  I would encourage them to communicate with their son or daughter.  For the most part, students will make smart decisions, but an honest mistake can impact the rest of their lives.  If students see something and are afraid to report it, I hope parents will remind them about the anonymous tip line.  Lastly, I hope that parents will check out the Public Safety web site (www.publicsafety.villanova.edu).  It has a lot of helpful information and resources.