Lower campus to improve barriers to deter criminals
Departments partner with Campus Safety to provide additional security measures for vulnerable area. | Photo Courtesy of Brian Phillips
“FOR US, THIS IS PERSONAL”
The isolated areas behind Hart Hall and along the adjacent creek have shown themselves as vulnerable entry points for those who come to campus for malicious purposes, according to Chief John Ojeisekhoba of Campus Safety. After an assault suspect entered campus by jumping the wall between Roma Drive and Hart Hall, the insufficiency of the wall as a deterrent became impossible to ignore, prompting Campus Safety to make the official recommendation to raise the barrier.
“For us, this is personal,” Ojeisekhoba said. “For us, it’s beyond a [stolen] laptop and wallet. That student may have homework in their laptop, may have personal information. It’s not just financial value.”
Current plans involve replacing the current wall, which stands at approximately six feet, with a cement block barrier that stretches roughly eight to 10 feet tall, according to senior director of facilities management Brian Phillips. A 10-foot tall rod iron fence will also partition much of the creek from the rest of Biola.
“The idea is that it would run far enough to make it very difficult for people to defeat, and it also runs into a more heavily vegetated section of the creek,” Phillips said. “We’re also looking into maybe improving the landscaping around it… and maybe using landscaping that is a bit thorny. That could also help securing the campus perimeter.”
Phillips believes the project will cost approximately $100,000 to $150,000, though it remains in its early stages, as facilities must develop a construction plan to submit to the city for approval.
RESPONDING TO SECURITY NEEDS
In the meantime, Campus Safety has short-term measures in place to increase security in the area, including security cameras.
Vice president of university operations and finance Michael Pierce noticed these cameras during his walk-through of the area with Campus Safety on Nov. 10, as well as the shortness of the wall, and gave approval to make improvements.
“That wall has been there since the original construction of the campus, I think. It’s served its purpose, but it’s time to be able to respond to what’s going on in the community and make sure we’re protecting our students,” Pierce said.
Stewart Hall resident advisor and junior business major Konner Christie believes the security measures will help keep students safe in an area of campus with a pattern of criminal presence.
“I’d say it would definitely help. I mean, when I lived here my freshman year… people used to leave their bikes just out against the wall, and the bikes got stolen,” Christie said. “I think overall Campus Safety does a pretty good job at monitoring that back area, but I think of all the places on campus it’s one of the places that’s weak, I guess, or more susceptible to crime.”
While Ojeisekhoba acknowledges that the new measures will not eliminate crime in the area entirely, he believes Campus Safety will remain prepared to protect students.
“These low-life folks are going to try other methods, or other locations, because campus has no fence all around… They’ll try the location that will cause the least issues for them and so [they] will be able to commit crimes,” Ojeisekhoba said. “We’re ready to face them.”