By Cassandra Sottile
Elm Staff Writer
With the upcoming holiday break, Washington College will be losing its main source of information for reporting suspicious activity on campus.
“This time of year for college breaks, students leaving campus become a vulnerable population,” said Director of Public Safety Gerald Roderick.
During the holiday season, crime rates typically go up. In the aftermath of the thefts that took place in the Gibson Center for the Arts, Public Safety and Residence Life have tips to prevent break-ins while students are off-campus.
“The number one thing that students can do to keep their items secure and safe is to lock their room doors,” said Assistant Director of Residence Life Amy Sine. “Police have said that thefts are crimes of opportunity; you leave your laptop out and walk away or leaving your car windows open or room unlocked. These are all things that students can take control over and eliminate the issue on their own.”
“The problem is outsiders coming on campus trying to get into dorms to steal electronics or other valuables. Most students grab their bags and run, often leaving their belongings out or forgetting to lock their doors. Those are the rooms that get hit,” Roderick said.
If students are concerned about valuables, like electronics, jewelry, etc., they should be properly stored or taken home.
“Thanksgiving break is a time for students to start thinking about the transition to winter break for one month. Anything non-essential students can start taking home to leave there,” he said.
Public Safety will be checking rooms over winter break to check that lights are out, things are unplugged, and there is no risk of fire.
“It’s crucial that students also do housekeeping — checking the food in their refrigerators and taking out the trash so no bugs will get in. It makes their return to campus more pleasant come January,” he said.
Over the winter break, a lot occurs in the dorm buildings. Housekeeping and contractors will be coming into the buildings, cleaning and entering rooms if maintenance has to be done.
“Students should lock their doors and windows, as well as pack and secure items for break themselves, that way they know their room will be secured,” Roderick said.
While off-campus students should follow these safety tips, there are additional ways to protect their belongings.
“If they have friends that live in the area, off-campus students should ask them to check their home regularly. If no one is available to regularly check the house, contact the Chestertown Police Department to inform them that the residence will be vacant for a period of time so they will keep an eye on it,” he said.
Students must work together with Residence Life and Public Safety to make a safe and secure campus, according to Roderick.
“It is a stressful time for students who have a lot on their mind. Public Safety is here to keep students safe, so please let us know your concerns because we are here for the students,” he said.