The “Safety” of Seattle University

Myrea Mora, News Editor

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Following the break-in that occurred in Campion Hall roughly two weeks ago, I began to question the effectiveness of Seattle U’s Public Safety. This was the second break-in to this residence hall in the 2018-19 school year.

As a student who lives on campus, I put my trust in Public Safety, but after receiving emails informing students that an individual who broke into
a residence hall was found in the lounge of floor eight and writing an article about it, I began to question this safety.

I personally interviewed the head of security Craig Birklid and felt even more unsettled after this conversation. We discussed this break-in, the reasons why the suspect was found hours after the break-in, and how Public Safety communicates these events to the Seattle U community.

How could a check of the stairwell be properly conducted, and officers not notice that the doors had been taped over? Most importantly, how is it that Public Safety conducted an internal check of the building and could not find the suspect if they did thoroughly check every floor as stated? Also, if patrol was increased how could a sleeping man on the floor be missed?

The suspect was believed to have left the area as camera surveillance showed a male individual heading towards the Murphey Garage area. However, the suspect was not caught yet and when reviewing this surveillance again they decided to go through the residence hall again to check for the suspect.

Birklid stated that the reason that Public Safety did not see the suspect sleeping in the lounge the first time was because he was asleep behind a couch. In my opinion, if there was any sense of danger or any suspicion that an individual was in the residence halls when he shouldn’t be, every nook and cranny should have been checked to ensure the safety of our students.

Taping over doors is a common practice for students living in residence halls because it is seen as more “convenient” to enter or exit places without worrying about swiping in or using their key. I would hope that after this situation students understand that this is a safety concern.

If any doors to student’s residence hall rooms utilized this taping mechanism and had their doors taped open this night, with bad intentions, any suspect who broke into the hall could have attempted to enter a student’s room and succeeded.

Birklid also stated that students have taped over doors before. It has happened in the past and it was an apparent issue the year before in the stairwells.

This statement is worrying because if that were the case then why are the doors not checked for taping regularly and especially during break-ins such as these where a suspect could potentially have access to where students sleep and call home during the school year?

It is understandable that they believed the suspect had left the area, but I do not understand how taping over the door had been missed when Public Safety had encountered this practice before. I especially do not understand how they missed an entire person sleeping in a residence hall lounge.

Students have previously questioned the communication of these events to the community as they are often sent hours after the incident took place.

Birklid explained that the on-call team that is in charge of timely notifications sends out emails as soon as possible. Non-emergencies are communicated through emails to bring knowledge to the situation. Whereas emergencies that require an immediate response are communicated through text messages.

Public Safety also stated that if they had known the suspect had gained entry to the residence halls that a text would have been sent out. Personally, if there was a break-in and the suspect wasn’t found or if there was any chance that an individual who was not supposed to be in the residence hall was in the hall, I believe a text should be sent out without question.

The suspect assaulted a police officer so who’s to say that if a student who did not have the knowledge that a person had broken into the hall walked into the lounge, that the suspect would have not behaved the same way towards them.

Although this situation was increasingly alarming compared to previous break-ins, the suspect was arrested and taken into custody and no students were hurt. We can only hope that this was a learning lesson to all individuals who play a role in ensuring student safety.

Myrea Mora, Staff Writer