The Daily Tar Heel
Printing news. Raising hell. Since 1893.
Friday, Feb. 23, 2024 Newsletters Latest print issue

We keep you informed.

Help us keep going. Donate Today.
The Daily Tar Heel

How students can stay safe on and off campus


Carmichael Residence Hall pictured on Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2022.

Content Warning: This article contains mentions of sexual assault.




On Oct. 22, UNC Police released a report of an unidentified male following a student to their room in Carmichael Residence Hall and assaulting them. Two days later, UNC Police arrested an individual in front of the Undergraduate Library for possessing/concealing drugs and resisting arrest. 

With the recent reports of crime on campus, there is a variety of safety knowledge and resources students can access.

UNC Police Chief Brian James said he is open to extending dorm security efforts, including enhanced methods of surveillance. 

However, he added the decision to install additional cameras on campus, especially in residence halls, would have to come from the University rather than the police department.

"What I would say is, that if we had cameras at residence halls, specifically on the entryways, there are times when that may help us to solve a reported crime when we’re doing an investigation," James said. 

He said UNC Police makes sure its officers and security officers — officers who are not sworn in but work security throughout campus — try to be in places they need to be at the right times. 

Another way of deterring harm on campus is ensuring people are not trailing behind students who are using their keys or Flex passes to enter residence halls, James said. 

“Try to avoid having someone come into the residence hall that you're not familiar with,” James said. “If someone is in a residence hall or you see someone on campus that's acting strangely, making you feel uncomfortable and unsafe, I would rather you call us and it'd be nothing than you do not call us and then something actually happened.” 

James said students can download the Carolina Ready Safety App to receive communications from the University about safety, such as Alert Carolina notifications. There is also a call feature in the app that operates the same way as the blue light call boxes throughout campus. 

“If you give it permission, it's going to locate you on campus and then we will dispatch an officer to check on you at that location,” James said. 

Aaron Bachenheimer, executive director of off-campus student life and community partnerships at UNC, helps provide resources to students who are considering or currently living off-campus. 

He said UNC Student Affairs hosts orientation sessions every summer for incoming UNC students that include information about safety and security. 

“We know sometimes if a roommate loses the key, the solution that the students who are living together come up with is to just leave the door open,” Bachenheimer said. “We try to help students recognize that that's probably not the best approach." 

He said the best thing to do is most likely to talk to the individual's property manager or landlord. 

Students living both off-campus and on-campus should be mindful while walking from one place to another, Bachenheimer added. 

“We talked to students about walking with friends, using Safe Ride or SafeWalk, using late night transportation, being mindful of walking through well-lit areas, calling a friend and letting them know that you're going from one place to another,” Bachenheimer said. 

SafeWalk is a student-run program with a program advisor in the UNC Police Department who serves as its liaison with the University. They serve anyone with a UNC PID, including faculty, staff and students. The walkers are paid and undergo background checks. 

To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.

“We're essentially a late-night buddy system for people that are leaving the library and want some company whether they feel unsafe or just need someone to rant to,” Program Manager Nick Chappell said.

Chappell said students can connect with SafeWalk outside of Davis Library or contact them via phone and coordinate where to meet. Twenty-minute time slots are also available through Calendly and can be booked in advance. 

“One thing that I think we need to do better as a University is encouraging people to use programs like SafeWalk, because I feel like we are one of the only proactive safety resources,” Chappell said. “I think a lot of what we do here at UNC is just reactive. I think if we can encourage people to use these proactive resources it will go a long way in bolstering campus security.” 

Students can learn more about public safety at the Carolina Ready website.