Grace Amsden, Editor-in-Chief
It’s evening, and the last classes offered on campus are concluding. A student is walking to their car, but just before arriving they hear a rustle in the nearby bushes and an individual protrudes in a manner that the student believes to be suspicious. A shrill-sounding alarm is released into the air, loud enough to be heard across campus.
Perhaps in a backpack, pocket or on a keychain may be an item that an individual keeps for personal safety. Mace, pepper spray, tasers, wearable whistles and even cat keychains – ones for self-defense where the user can put their fingers through the eyes holes, using the cat ears as sharp objects – are among the multiple personal safety devices available.
Alarms are another type of personal safety device. One example of an alarm is the ROBOCOPP. It can be added onto a key ring and activates by pulling a pin, which triggers a 120-decibel siren.
“I think the simple fact that you have something and you have a plan makes you feel more prepared, and it reminds me to be more aware of my surroundings,” Jill Turner, PR and marketing director for ROBOCOPP, said.
In emergencies, it doesn’t matter how strong someone is if they’re faced with an competent individual with a weapon, Co-Founder and CEO for ROBOCOPP Sam Mansen said. Although alarms can be placed into houses and cars for security purposes, personal safety devices are essential and will be integrated even more in the next 10 years, he said.
“People put alarms on their homes and their cars, but not themselves or their children,” Mansen said. “Why not? Life is much more valuable, I think.”
Mansen said that once a student sets off the alarm, campus security officers are likely to follow the sound and it may also generate attention from students around the area.
“Students are often coming straight from high school (to a college campus) and it’s often (the case that) they’re coming from a relatively safe environment to a more dangerous one, where there’s more people their age, a lot of different surroundings they’re not familiar with and personal safety is way more of a concern than people give it credit for,” Turner said.
Student Brooklyn Brown said that for students who take night classes at Pierce College Puyallup, the campus can feel eerie. She said that students should be allowed to bring personal safety devices as long it’s not something like a gun or knife.
“Who knows if they’re (the student) going to claim that it’s for their safety, or they’re really not liking their instructor at the time and want to bombard everybody with something like that,” Brown said.
Student Robert Stewart said some devices may pose hazards; for example, he said that some mace products left in the car risk exploding if they get too hot.
Stewart said he can understand the reason for carrying a light or alarm, as for the most part these devices won’t cause harm unless used in a particular way.
“The light, if it’s heavy enough, can be used as self-defense or just to keep people from trying to sneak up on you,” Stewart said.
While personal safety devices are important, they may not be necessary, Stewart said.
“It’s not necessary if you believe that you’re in a safer environment,” Stewart said. “It just depends on what time of the day that you’re taking classes.”
At Pierce College, weapons – including guns and knives – are prohibited, Director of Safety and Security Chris MacKersie said.
The Student Code of Conduct within the WAC 132K-126-190 Rules and regulations states that if students are in possession or use “firearms, explosives, other weapons or dangerous chemicals or any other device or substance which can be used to inflict bodily harm on college premises or at college-sponsored or supervised activities, expect for authorized purposes or for law enforcement officers,” they’re subject to disciplinary action.
MacKersie recommends that for personal safety, students should be aware of their surroundings and have their keys in hand and personal belongings situated before walking to their car. Individuals may be targets if they appear to lack confidence and aren’t focused on the area around them, he said.
Because students and staff are good about communicating with campus safety regarding concerns, this can help handle situations and lead to a lower crime rate, MacKersie said.
“Fortunately, we have had few serious incidents on campus,” MacKersie said. “Not that something couldn’t happen tomorrow, but historically the campuses have (a) pretty low crime (rate) and I know part of it is because of campus safety’s active presence.”
According to the results from an anonymous survey conducted by The Puyallup Post, three students out of 20 bring a personal safety device to campus. Seventeen students out of 20 stated that carrying a device is beneficial for students at Pierce.
The Puyallup Post is the award-winning news media of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2018. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube @thepuyalluppost