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Security improves, but students still uneasy


Some students who attend classes at night say that regardless of the presence of surveillance cameras on campus and the efforts of Campus Safety, they sometimes don’t feel at ease.

Ora Chapman, a nursing major, said she wished TJC had more lighting in darker areas.

“The only time I come up here is at 7 p.m. to take my test at the Rogers Student Center, and this way over here is dark,” said Chapman, pointing toward Pirtle Technology building. “It’s not as lighted as it should be; and what I mean is, if something were to occur, there are not enough people here to see and witness it.”

She became concerned about her safety one night when she had to use the ATM and a vending machine. “That is when I noticed how dark it was. I just scurried my way on to my car,” she said.

Campus Safety Director Tom Johnson told The Apache Pow Wow earlier this year that over the summer extensive efforts were made to improve lighting and visibility on campus at night. More lights were added and old bulbs were replaced with more powerful bulbs that give off more light.

“It (improved lighting) will illuminate the campus better in the night,” Johnson said at the start of the semester, “so that it allows the video cameras to get better images and it makes it easier for the Campus Safety people to see the view of the terrain.”

Stephanie Pellegalle, a nursing major, said she also sometimes has concerns about her safety at night. 

“If someone were to take off with you, then what are you going to do?” asked Pellegalle. “What if there was no one there waiting? There has been a lot of times where I’ve been alone out here waiting for my ride.”

Any student who feels uncomfortable at night on campus can call Campus Security.

“Even though the campus is well-lit we understand your concern of walking alone at night,” acknowledges Campus Safety in information about its Safewalk program found in the Student Handbook. 

“Once you call Campus Safety, we will have one of our officers meet you at your location, and walk with you to your desired location.”

There are two phone numbers to call for a courtesy escort: 903-510-2258 before 5 p.m. and 903-510-0000 after 5 p.m.  Officers also will respond when students have locked their keys in their car or are having  trouble starting their car.

To improve personal safety at night, Campus Safety advises to avoid walking alone when possible, to stay on lighted routes and to report any suspicious people or activities.

Johnson has said that it is his goal to make TJC the safest campus in the United States.

Pellgalle said that students would feel safer if surveillance cameras were

 More visible  because if people knew they were being watched, they would not be tempted to do any thing suspicious.

She also suggested having more security officers patrolling the campus at night.

“Some students don’t want to call Campus Security for escorts or maybe they forget,” she  said. “It puts us more at ease if we just had security where areas are most occupied at night.”

Some turn to self-defense training to feel more secure.

Brandon Jones teaches self-defense skills at Kung Fu & Fitness, the business he owns

at 2537 E. Fifth St. He said some of his clients are women who want to know how to protect themselves if they are attacked.

“We give the woman … some easy quick (self-defense skills) weapons that we can train the ladies to use and that they can take with them — just a variety of things,” said Jones.

Through their Self-Defense 101 classes, Jones said they address specific concerns women have about their personal safety.

“For instance if a woman came in and wanted to know what could they do if someone were to grab them, we can focus on that,” Jones said, ” or, if she were to be held at gunpoint, we c
an focus on that. We really customize down to whatever it is they want to focus on.”

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