Piedmont College has been recognized as the safest campus, according to the Niche 2021 Best Colleges in America ranking. This achievement is, of course, something that we should be proud of. We ranked first place out of the 1,350 schools recognized on this list. We, the Piedmont community, are proud of this achievement and recognize that there is still more work to be done.
Of course, it’s exciting that we ranked first in safety. But what does that mean? What does it mean to be considered the safest college in America? Niche breaks down safety into seven categories. The campus crime rate, local crime grade, student safety surveys, residence hall violence and rape rate, alcohol-related arrests and drug-related arrests. These are things that Piedmont College rated highly in, but what can be done to make sure we stay in the first position?
A major concern that we have is lighting on campus. Whether that be in the parking lots behind GB or the bridge to and from Swanson Center, we agree that outdoor lighting is an issue that needs to be addressed. One simple solution is to add lighting in places where students don’t feel completely safe. If a school wants to go above and beyond, they should consider adding blue light boxes across campus.
Blue light boxes are a way to let authorities know if a person is in danger. If a person is being chased, they simply press the button on the box they pass and continue running until they reach safety. Adding these blue light boxes around campus will make students feel safer when they have to walk around campus late at night.
Some students, who have had to walk across campus late at night, have expressed their concern for their safety walking around campus in almost total darkness. On top of that, Piedmont allows people who are not a part of the Piedmont community to walk around campus. This is fine and dandy, except we are living in different times. We are living in the middle of a pandemic, where we cannot be sure who these people are or where they came from. We don’t know who they have come in contact with or if they are carriers of the virus. Guests on campus are, currently, being required to sign in and get temperature checked before they enter campus. Why aren’t these people being checked in as well?
If a student has any safety concerns, there are a few steps they can take to make sure their voice is heard. The first, and most immediate step to take would be to reach out to any RD on call or campus police. The number for campus police is 706-939-1349. Another route students can take is to bring up their concerns at a town hall meeting. No town hall meeting is scheduled yet, but these meetings would be the perfect place to publicly address any concerns.
Even though we received this recognition, what else can be done to keep students and faculty at Piedmont safe? There is always room to grow. Just because we earned this ranking, that doesn’t mean we should stop here. Piedmont’s administration needs to take students’ opinions into consideration when they are planning new safety features on campus. We want to make sure we keep this ranking and prove that this is not a one year award.
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