Survey finds women concerned about safety on campus

By Joao Vitor Bonanoni/ Staff Writer

According to a survey of women at Missouri Valley College, 62% feel that MoVal should be doing more to protect female students on campus.

The Delta collected answers from 107 female students that live both on and off campus through an anonymous survey. The survey consisted of 13 questions about how students feel regarding women’s safety at Missouri Valley College. 

Approximately 25% of the participants answered that they don’t feel safe walking around campus at night, and 52% sometimes responded they feel safe.  

Chané Higgo, a Sophomore, said the college should provide more security and public safety patrolling in the evenings. 

“I feel very uncomfortable walking alone at night on campus, especially since campus already does not have a lot of lights on during the night,” Higgo said. “You never know if someone might be watching or waiting for you.”

“At night I notice that I am more aware of my surroundings and I walk back to my room a little faster,” said Junior student Yoni Van Cleemput. “Definitely, now that there have been robbings close to campus.”

Cleemput also mentioned the idea of campus security having better patrols during campus as a way to increase safety. 

William McMellen, Director of the Department of Public Safety, said that the department is having issues with short staff during this semester. 

“That’s my biggest problem right now. It’s my staffing,” McMellen said. “If we had the staffing, it would be a lot better.”

McMellen commented that the Campus Safety Department is working to find more officers, however, the department is having a hard time finding professionals available for the position. When commenting about students’ apprehension to walk at night, McMellen said that public safety officers are more than willing to accompany students, give them rides or attend to any concern that they may have. 

Despite the efforts of campus safety, nearly 30% of female students surveyed by the Delta said they have already experienced an incident that directly affected them and made them feel unsafe on campus, however, only 16% of them reported it. The reasons behind this low number of reports are often related to fear of reprisal, belief in it being a personal matter, fear to get the aggressor in trouble, or fear to report the incident to a male officer.  

National statistics also show the low number of sexual violence reports on campuses around the United States. RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) published that college-age victims often do not report to law enforcement, and only 20% of female student victims, aged 18-24, report sexual violence incidents.

McMellen said that students should be comfortable to come and report incidents by the Public Safety Department at Malcolm Center. 

“Don’t be afraid of reporting something,” McMellen said. “That’s how we stop this stuff.” Together with that, Public Safety Department counts on the support of Teresa Ceselski, Director of the Counseling Center. Ceselski is open to talking with students who feel more comfortable talking with a woman when reporting an incident. 

The survey also collected students’ suggestions about what the college should do to increase female students’ safety on campus. Most of the comments were related to better lighting around campus, better security in dorm doors, the setup of safety buttons to facilitate contact with campus security, and the installation of cameras in buildings and outside areas around campus. 

“I am totally open to having more cameras on campus,” McMellen said. “We have talked about it; there are a lot of people that are for it. It’s just the finance part that is a problem.” 

The head of the campus safety department also shared that it is vital for students to come and share their opinion and suggestions. 

“I am here to protect you and make sure you feel safe,” McMellen said. “Any suggestions would help with that.”

Students who desire to report or contact Public Safety Department for suggestions can call the phone at (660) 815-0111 or email directly at 

“Don’t be afraid to come and talk to us,” McMellen said. “We want to know these things so we can make it better.”

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