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  April 9, 2001

Officials Urge Vigilance
in Light of Recent Incidents

UConn officials are reminding faculty, staff and students to take advantage of public safety systems in place at the Storrs campus, and to be vigilant in helping assure the safety of others.

Recent incidents that have occurred during the past month have underscored the University's efforts to remind students and employees that safety must be an individual and collective priority. While the campus is safe, it is not immune to criminal activity, says Carole Henry, director of residential life.

On April 2, a man wielding a knife forced a shuttle bus driver to take him to Old Turnpike Road. Once there, he left the bus and ran. The driver was not harmed. Three days earlier, a man with a knife accosted a woman walking near Northwest Residence Halls, then took her to another location in his sports utility vehicle where he groped and then released her. And, early in the morning of March 4, a man entered two separate rooms in the Towers residence complex and inappropriately touched a woman in each, before leaving the area.

In light of the shuttle bus incident, UConn transportation officials have hired student monitors to accompany bus drivers on all off-campus routes, and on all routes after dark. Students, faculty and staff are urged to use the Husky Escort Service, which offers rides and walking escorts from dusk until 3 a.m., or to be with friends when walking on campus, particularly at night. Additionally, UConn police are asking anyone who sees any suspicious activity to report it immediately.

"We regularly educate our students to take safety precautions," said Henry. "We urge them to keep their doors locked, to walk in groups, to use the escort services, and to be aware of their surroundings."

There are more than 100 blue emergency call boxes on campus, and every residence hall has at least one call box mounted near entrances. The call boxes provide instant 911 access, in addition to on-campus phone service, and identify for campus police the caller's location - even if the caller does not speak into the phone. Campus lighting is enhanced on an ongoing basis, and exterior doors at all residence halls are now equipped with self-closing - and locking - devices.

But, said Henry, although there are dozens of systems in place, students and staff must use them if they are to be effective.

"We are constantly upgrading safety measures on campus," she said. "But people still have to use good judgment and common sense. Not just today, now, when people are nervous, but every day."

Last week, police and student affairs personnel met with students in residence halls. Students were also reminded about safety procedures by voice and e-mail, and flyers showing drawings of the suspects were posted in residence halls, academic buildings, on shuttle buses, and in local commercial establishments.

This week, area meetings are being conducted by staff from the Division of Student Affairs and campus police to talk to students and again discuss safety procedures. Additionally, counseling has been offered to address student or employee concerns.

Richard Veilleux

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