The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

84° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    ASUA weighs dorm safety codes

    When ASUA inaugurated the newly elected Senate to the student government in May, only one senator-elect stood before the masses with a promise to make dorm life safer.

    The pledge was inspired by a sexual assault that occurred in Manzanita-Mohave Residence Hall in 2007. Just a semester removed from Senator Bryan Baker’s presentation of his platform, the effort may have come full circle. Just as a sexual assault inspired Baker’s promise, the recent alleged sexual assault at Coronado Residence Hall may propel it into reality.

    “”Unfortunately, what this will do for my plan is probably give it a better chance of going through,”” Baker said. “”In our society, when things go wrong is when people tend to act, so that’s probably how that will affect my platform.””

    Police responded to an alleged sexual assault at Coronado early on Oct. 8. Later that afternoon, the University of Arizona Police Department brought the accused perpetrator into custody and charged him with three counts of sexual assault and one count of sexual abuse, UAPD officials said.

    Since he gained his Senate seat, Baker has worked with the ASUA, the Residence Hall Association and Residence Life to see what dorm safety measures students largely favor.

    “”Right now, what the platform is calling for is whatever the students want,”” he said.

    Baker is currently in the process of finalizing a survey that will be sent to students with the purpose of gaining knowledge on what forms of safety students want. The survey will include questions about students’ favorability on subjects ranging from cameras in dorms to the possibility of required visitor check-ins, Baker said.

    “”Issues like security cameras and 24-hour desk staff, when it comes down to it, could be pretty controversial,”” he said. “”A lot of students will want them for increased safety, and a lot of students won’t want them.””

    Many residence halls do not have personnel at their front desks past midnight, often a crucial time for sexual assault prevention, said Tiffany Tedesco, co-director of the UA Women’s Resource Center.

    “”You just have to be smart – prevention is the key,”” she said. “”We’re always trying to do that work here.””

    In the party-now, worry-later environment that often surrounds college life, students must look after themselves, Tedesco said.

    “”You can’t depend on the university. You can’t depend on the police,”” she said. “”It’s scary.””

    Tedesco added that university programs such as SafeRide, SafeWalk and the WRC’s self-defense courses can only do so much to protect potential sexual assault victims on campus.

    Baker says his plan is no different.

    His platformð – which calls for the possibility of 24-hour front desk personnel, locked doors and mandatory check-ins for visitors – may still not have stopped the alleged sexual assault at Coronado, as police say a resident let the non-student perpetrator into the building.

    Although Baker’s plan may not have prevented that particular incident, no preventative measures are too small, he said.

    “”People need to use judgment,”” Baker said. “”What we can do is educate.””

    While it may be natural for students to be shocked by the alleged sexual assault at Coronado, students should keep in mind that their safety has not been compromised and the situation is under control, with the accused perpetrator in police custody, said Sgt. Juan Alvarez, UAPD public information officer.

    “”Students just need to practice safe practices,”” he said. “”The campus is safe.””

    Depending on the results of the survey, the university would most likely insert the additional dorm safety measures by next fall semester, although some avenues will be easier than others, Baker said.

    Increasing front desk personnel at campus dorms would be a fairly simple task, as increasing desk staff is an inexpensive project. The more complicated procedures would involve such measures as adding video surveillance to residence halls, he said.

    In fact, adding cameras would likely require a new student fee. Despite possibly being voted on in the upcoming spring semester, the addition of such a preventative measure may be complicated by the regular two-year process that fees must go through, Baker said.

    Still, Baker is confident that whatever students decide on will be taken seriously and implemented by the university in a timely manner.

    “”The whole point of the survey is to either get a mandate from the students to act or to not,”” Baker said. “”I’m advocating for the students here. If the students don’t want it, then I’m not going to do it.””

    More to Discover
    Activate Search