Proactive Personal Protection

By Ashley Graham and Pulse Staff

Whether it’s the four students that were stabbed to death at the University of Idaho in November 2022 or the mass shooting that killed three students at Michigan State University this week, personal safety is a priority for many college students.

Freshman education student at UF, Suvi Hollenbach, like other college students across the nation started to take their personal safety more seriously after the quadruple murder grabbed national headlines.

“I think the buddy system should be highly recommended but not strictly implemented,” Hollenbach said via email. “This would allow students to be more comfortable walking after dark and lower the chance of an attack happening.”

UF Chief of Police and Director of Security Willam Spraw says he has not seen an increase in safety concerns on campus regarding something like a knife attack.

“There have not been any parents reaching out about any concerns after the attack,” Spraw said. “A campus is more likely to get an active shooter.”

Hollenbach has been proactive in protecting her own safety.

“I carry pepper spray at all times to protect myself,” Hollenbach said.

Pepper spray and other self defense items such as tactical pens, personal alarms, and keychain weapons, is a way students can protect themselves while walking on campus. With all those non-lethal weapons on hand, it will give anyone the ability to slow down their attacker and get away as quickly as possible.

Spraw says students need to stay alert and be proactive while on campus.

“If you see something, say something,” said Spraw. This allows the campus police to get on top of whatever the issue may be before it becomes a problem.

“Stay alert and if it does not feel right something is probably not right,” Spraw said.

There are 50 Code Blue poles posted all over campus which will allow students to alert campus safety as soon as an issue arises, though Spraw says they are very rarely used.

“We do a PA check (tornado siren) monthly,” Spraw said. “The system checks them occasionally silently/electronically.”

Spraw says when someone pushes a button on the Code Blue phones the call comes into the office and, just like caller ID, the location shows up on the phone.

“It is considered an on-campus 922,” Spraw said.

The Code Blue Emergency Phones are posted all over campus which will allow students to alert campus safety as soon as an issue arises. There are different types on campus according the UF Campus Safety and Security webpage. The pedestal phones are placed in high traffic areas, the pole mount phones are parking areas on lighting poles, and, near the main entrance of all residence halls, students will find wall mount phones.

Spraw also says to check the crowd when out and about. This allows a person to get a sense of who they are around and it will give them the proactive movement to remove themselves from a situation before it becomes serious.

“Students should have campus security (phone number) in their phones,” Spraw said.

Having the campus security phone number preprogrammed allows a student to take less time looking up the phone number then calling when they are in a high-risk situation. This allows students to immediately call for help and alert campus security that there is a serious situation on campus.