Campus / News / October 8, 2014

Schlaf sees changing safety culture


Even though the most recent release of the Annual Safety and Fire Report offered 31 pages of information regarding safety procedures, statistics and protocols, Director of Campus Safety John Schlaf concedes that it’s important not to take the statistics at face value.

Though the categories of safety are extensive and range from burglary to manslaughter by negligence, Campus Safety calculates data based on the calendar year, not the academic year. Because 2014 is not over, the most recent data is from 2013.

“So you can see the chronological discrepancy there,” Schlaf said.

There are also geographic limits, Schlaf said.

“[Clery is] not necessarily interested in those offenses of those categories that may have happened one or two blocks away from campus, even if it was students all around,” he said. That data belongs to information held by the Galesburg Police Department.

The annual report, compiled by Campus Safety and required by the Jeanne Clery Disclosure Act, the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 and the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, added three new categories in 2013: domestic violence, dating violence and stalking. Data revealed four instances of dating violence in 2013.

Despite jumps in data — there were 14 instances of burglary as opposed to a prior eight or nine, for example — it isn’t necessarily indicative of an upward trend in crime. In fact, jumps in data could mean just the opposite. Sexual offenses are a good example of this.

“The fact that it’s going up may be a good sign, because it may be an indication that within that community the citizens feel comfortable making the report to either the police or, in our circumstance, to Campus Safety or the administration depending on what the offense is,” Schlaf said. “So it’s important to really have an honest dialogue about what’s going on, because sometimes that first look doesn’t really tell the story.”

Even though no statistics this year were especially appalling, freshman Sam Klingher expressed concern about the number of fire alarms after he skimmed the report.

“The fire alarm system seems antiquated,” Klingher, who lives in Sherwin-Neifert, said. “I have some fear, but I’m not sure how rational it is. But I’m also a freshman.”

According to Schlaf, the biggest threat to campus is the mentality that “if something bad is going to happen, it won’t happen to me.”

“It’ll happen to someone else, some place else,” Schlaf said. “It’s the kind of stuff we’ve all heard. My mom told me the same things all of our moms have said, and we’ve all had the same cautions and now you hear me saying it and I’m singing the same song.”

Still, Schlaf has noticed a changing culture on campus and a tendency in students to be more responsible about their safety.

“My sense of it is that I see less, and maybe if it’s something we’ve done and maybe everyone’s just sick of hearing Campus Safety say ‘don’t prop the door,’ that they’ve stopped, well bless their hearts. I’m glad.”

Tags:  annual safety and fire report Campus Safety clery act clery statistics John Schlaf

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Kate Mishkin
Kate Mishkin is a junior majoring in English literature and minoring in journalism. This is her first year as managing editor, after having served as co-news editor and co-mosaic editor. Kate is the recipient of two awards from the Illinois College Press Association for news and feature stories and one award from the Associated Collegiate Press. In 2014 she won the Theodore Hazen Kimble Prize and Ida M. Tarbell Prize in Investigate Journalism. During the summer of 2014, she will be interning at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

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