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Safer off-campus housing should be priority for Baylor's 10-year vision

Feb. 9, 2001

With Baylor's growth, more and more students continue to live off campus, specifically in the area surrounding Baylor. While this area is filled with college students, it is not exactly the safest place to live in Waco. In keeping with its 10-year vision, a project currently in the planning phase, Baylor should strive to make this popular student residence area more secure.

Expanding the Baylor Department of Public Safety's jurisdiction to include off-campus residences surrounding Baylor would be a good first step. Often, it takes Waco Police Department officers longer to respond to calls from students living in this area because the jurisdiction is so large.

Baylor officers are more in touch with the needs and concerns of Baylor students and could respond more quickly as well. The Baylor police force should also be enlarged so its officers will be able to handle increased responsibilities.

Some apartments surrounding campus are privately owned; however, Baylor does own several properties, and increasing security at these complexes by adding gates, restricted access and better lighting should be a priority as well.

Baylor officials should also work more closely with Waco officials to make the area safer. The area is essentially an extension of campus, and so far as security measures are concerned, it should be treated the same as campus.

For example, there should be blue-light call boxes located throughout the neighborhood to give students quick access to police wherever they are. Increasing lighting at apartment residences and on the streets should be considered as well.

Baylor also needs to work with Waco Transit to make transportation to and from campus from the surrounding residences easier. While there are currently vans that provide access, students seldom use them. One reason for this might be because many students simply do not know about the shuttle service. Baylor needs to publicize the service more and try to encourage students to use the service.

These shuttles should also be wheelchair accessible, so students using wheelchairs can take advantage of them as well. This is particularly important because disabled students are more susceptible to assault. In addition, Baylor and Waco should make sure that curbs and apartment entrances have ramps.

Within the next 10 years, the need for safe off-campus housing around Baylor will increase. To provide for the safety of students living around campus, Baylor needs to address the poor security of this area.