Willamette’s Director of Campus Safety Ross Stout says Salem is pretty safe.
“You can walk downtown at night without a lot of fear that anything bad is going to happen, but it doesn’t mean you don’t need to be wary,” he said. “While people can feel somewhat secure and not continuously concerned, they still have to be watchful.”
The university itself is safe, too — and takes a number of steps to keep it that way, he said.
Willamette’s location across from the state Capitol offers protection for students and resources that can respond quickly. The university has formed great relationships with the state police, fire and police departments, Stout said. On campus, students can find standard emergency blue-light phones and safety escorts if necessary.
Confidential resources. Bishop Wellness Center offers free short-term counseling for stress, anxiety, depression and other issues, as well as a “mind spa” — complete with a leather massage chair and full spectrum light — that students can reserve for half-hour time slots.
Bishop’s counseling services adhere to state law regarding health information and are strictly confidential. Counseling records do not become part of a student’s academic record.
Willamette chaplains are also available for confidential talks, and if a student needs to file a report, the university can do that, too, in any way students feel the most comfortable, said Stout.
Emergency medical services. Students run a state-licensed Emergency Medical Service (WEMS) on weekends and respond to calls at no cost to students. WEMS responders are medically-trained and OHA-certified as either emergency medical responders or emergency medical technician-basics.
Safety of belongings
Theft. Students tend to trust the campus community and feel comfortable leaving their bags and even laptops unattended. Stout does not advise this, especially as Hatfield Library and the locker rooms at Sparks Fitness Center locker rooms are open to the public. Security cameras monitor storage cubes at Goudy Commons and at Sparks and thieves have been caught at both locations, he said.
Stolen bikes used to be one of the most common complaints. Campus Safety now gives away more secure u-shaped locks for free to any student who registers their bike’s serial number, which is essential for police to locate it, and reports have significantly decreased. If an officer notices a bike without a lock, they place a tag on it that directs them to the Service Center for a free lock.
Car break-ins. Alarms in every car and pre-installed stereo systems have reduced theft but it still happens, Stout said. He encourages students to not give thieves any opportunities.
“The important thing is to not leave visible things in their car. People will break into a $400 window just to find out what’s in a bag, only to find out it’s empty,” he said.
Work study students walk the campus and parking lots eight to 12 hours per day to deter crime and report any activity. It’s usually quiet, so if they see something, they’ll call Campus Safety, said Stout.
The best advice Stout has for students is to take the same precautions they would anywhere else.
“Ultimately, we’re all responsible for our own safety,” he said.