July 20, 2019 | 83° F

Off-Campus Living and Community Partnerships distributes window alarms, light timers

Photo by Edwin Gano |

Something as small as light timers and window alarms can go a long way in increasing campus safety.

Students have received multiple crime alerts within the first two weeks of the semester. But the Off-Campus Living and Community Partnerships is looking to make living in New Brunswick a little safer with a “Scarlet Block Watch” campaign, which is modeled after the Buckeye Block Watch at Ohio State University.

Last Thursday, the department reached out to off-campus students to deliver free safety kits to residents’ addresses at an event entitled “Scarlet Block Watch Kick-Off Party,” said Kerri Willson, director of the Off-Campus Living and Community Partnerships, an office dedicated to assisting students living off campus. The safety kits were equipped with window alarms and light timers.

“Any off-campus student who registers their local address with our department is entitled to receive a safety kit,” Willson said in an email. "One of the programs (Ohio State does) is a light timers and window alarm distribution program. It’s a way to get students in the door and engage with them about safety in their off-campus residence.”

More than 800 students registered with the office so far and about 200 students received a free safety kit, Willson said in an email.

Kaivanna Shah, a Rutgers Business School senior, said with the recent number of crime alerts, free safety kits are beneficial to off-campus students. But she believes students need to be aware of how to install the light timers and window alarms successfully for the kits to be worthwhile.

“Most of the times, robberies involve entry into the houses through unsecured entrances or by breaking through doors and windows,” she said. “ … To promote safety, having light timers and window alarms would be good. Safety kits are absolutely designed for this purpose.”

In order to further increase security, the University plans to install dozens of security cameras in the Rutgers campus area in addition to the 2,700 that exist already, Chancellor Richard L. Edwards told The Record in an interview on Wednesday.

Fifteen new members will be recruited to the Rutgers University Police Department in the coming months, Edwards said. He also noted that students can request a University police escort when returning to campus from other areas in New Brunswick.

“The safety and well-being of all members of our community are a priority,” Edwards said in the interview.

The issue of student safety was brought to the forefront last week when 10 current and former Rutgers students were charged with armed robbery and aggravated assault for an incident that occurred toward the end of the spring 2015 semester. Five of the charged students were members of the Rutgers football team. 

Even further, an unrelated sexual assault was reported in the early morning a week before the start of the fall semester in an area of the neighborhood where students frequently visit to eat and shop. 

But last November, President Robert L. Barchi told The Daily Targum in a private interview there was a 30 to 50 percent decline in crime. He said the recent wave of crimes is a misunderstanding students have had about the new crime reporting system that sends alerts about off-campus incidents in addition to on-campus incidents.

“ … You are hearing more about (crimes). So, is that a bad thing? Well, I don’t think it is, because that’s one of the reasons we did it,” Barchi said. “It’s to make people aware of the fact that walking around two blocks off campus at 3 a.m. is not a smart thing to do in an urban environment. It just isn’t.”

Avalon Zoppo

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