Is Ripon College Safe?
Campus Administration and Greek Life host panel for students regarding campus safety protocols and reports
By Deana Johnson
Six burglaries, eight rapes, 62 drug abuse violations, and 248 liquor law violations have been reported at Ripon College within the past three years. Despite this, are students safe on campus? Statistics shared by the college suggest that Ripon is, but that doesn’t mean students always feel safe on campus.
Thursday, Oct. 13, Mark Nicklaus and Dean Ogle with the help of various Greek organizations on campus hosted a safety meeting for interested students at which they discussed reported crimes that have taken place on campus in recent years, current safety procedures on campus, and addressed student questions regarding the safety on campus.
According to a survey conducted by psychology Professor Joe Hatcher, males and females on the Ripon College campus disagree on how safe the campus currently is for students.
“Over half of the males on campus that were surveyed reported that they felt very comfortable and safe, compared to less than a fourth of the females that were surveyed,” he said.
Crimes do occur on the campus, as Director of Residence Life, Mark Nicklaus explained while sharing information about crime rates on campus.
“On Oct. 1, Ripon College, as well as all colleges and universities throughout the country, was required according to the 1990 Clery Act, to submit an annual report indicating the number of reported crimes that took place on campus within the last year …Any incident that is reported to the college administration, whether a party is found guilty or not, is required to be reported in this annual report,” Nicklaus said, but noted that “Overall, I am proud to say that Ripon College is a relatively safe campus, in comparison to other colleges throughout the state and the country.”
Niklaus then cited the report that stated that, over the past three years, 6 burglaries, 8 rapes, 62 drug abuse violations, and 248 liquor law violations were reported on campus.
“However, we also see that over the past three years we have reported 0 incidents on campus in the following categories: murder, manslaughter by negligence, robbery, aggravated assault, motor vehicle theft, arson, hate crimes. The past three years also had 0 reported incidents of the following sex offenses: incest, statitory rape, and domestic violence.” Nicklaus said.
Current campus safety programs and safety nets include the RAVE alert system, Residential Hall Directors, RAs, keycard systems for buildings, emergency call sheets, lighted pathways, and a close distance and relationship with the Ripon Police Department, according to Nicklaus.
Every student is automatically enrolled in the RAVE alert system upon admission at Ripon College, which allows the campus to send emergency alerts to all students in about 4 to 7 minutes. Ripon College also has three residential hall directors who live on campus and are available between 5 p.m. to 7 a.m., which is the presumed time frame that most incidents happen on campus according to Dean Ogle. There are also 32 RAs on campus, allowing for one RA on each floor of residential buildings, and two on freshman floors. RAs do three nightly building checks on weekdays and four on weekends. RAs check public areas such as lounges and bathrooms for safety and make sure that outside doors are not being propped open to maintain restricted access to unpermitted personnel.
“Ripon College does not currently have on-campus security, although it is something we in administration have been working on. We made the decision to terminate our contract with Per Mar Security in 2021 because Per Mar could not fill the officer position on campus and their company values did not align with our values here at Ripon College.” Nicklaus said. “At the release of our contract with Per Mar, we signed a contract with Allied Universal Securities in the fall of 2021. AUS, however, has been unable to hire someone to fill the position at Ripon College. Because we know that it will likely be a while before AUS will be able to fill the position here, we made the decision to increase the training of hall directors and RAs. This year was the first year that our hall directors and RAs completed First Aid/CPR/Mental Health training in addition to their prior training. We have also started to work closer and establish a stronger relationship with the Ripon Police to help combat safety concerns in the meantime.”
Dean of Students Christopher Ogle explained that he does see value in having security personnel on campus.
“Do I think having on-campus security is beneficial and would make students feel safe? Yes of course I do and we will continue to pursue it,” he said. “However, there is a tendency for students to romanticize the idea of on-campus security. In the past when we had security on campus very few students took advantage of the escort services and on-campus security has led to some problematic incidents in the past.”
Ogle later elaborated that the comment about problematic incidents was in reference to an incident years ago involving a couple of female students getting escorted back to their building by an on-campus male security guard who used suggestive, sexually inappropriate comments to the individuals. He also referred to an incident years ago involving a campus security officer, who at the time was in a live-in position in the dorm halls, committing multiple thefts from student dorms.
Nicklaus also discussed the campus surveillance systems that are being installed in Johnson Hall. Nicklaus reminded students that although these cameras will be recording 24/7, the footage will only be viewed if an incident has occurred within that building or walkway area.
Footage being recorded will only be stored on the campus server for 14 to 16 days after which it will be deleted. Nicklaus assured students that only himself, Ogle, and the IT department will have access to the closet where the servers holding the footage will be stored.
In regards to a student’s question regarding if the surveillance cameras in Johnson Hall are a short-term trial run or a long-term security feature the campus plans to implement, Nicklaus said, “The campus is dedicating a lot of money, time, and resources into the surveillance system so students should expect this to be a long-term security feature moving forward.”
Ogle added that “Because the surveillance cameras have a ranger of about 300 feet, they can capture more than just people coming in and out of residence halls and can capture the broader area. For example one of the surveillance cameras on the east side of Johnson Hall has a view that overlooks the wooded trail connecting Scott Hall to Johnson Hall that has been an area of student concern in the past.”
Dean Ogle addressed student concerns about needing more lighted walkways on campus. Ogle explained that lighted pathways have been an area of discussion in recent years as some students feel that there is too much light and others not enough. Lighted pathways increase costs for the College and add to light pollution. Although administration is open to the idea of increasing lighted pathways on campus, he also assures students that in the past decades’ incidents outside residential buildings rarely happen, as most reported incidents happen within residential halls and dorm rooms.
Students who have additional concerns or questions about campus safety may reach out to Ogle or Nicklaus.