Portland State University is primarily a commuter school. A majority of the student population does not live in the residence halls, and to some it perhaps comes as a surprise that the option even is available.
See something, say something
Portland State University is primarily a commuter school. A majority of the student population does not live in the residence halls, and to some it perhaps comes as a surprise that the option even is available. But for those who do live on campus the main concern is the same as those who live anywhere else: safety.
Most of the time, living at PSU is fairly safe. There is a fire department in the middle of campus, so in theory residential fires shouldn’t be a major concern. Many residence halls are card access only, and every hall requires at least two means of entry. In addition, the Campus Public Safety Office (CPSO) encourages students to rely on them as a resource for things as simple as an escort across campus, or as nerve-wracking as recovering of stolen property.
But the fact is that even the safest set-ups can have unsafe aspects. And it’s up to the residents to keep themselves and each other safe.
The most recent incident that springs to most people’s minds when asked about Portland State’s residence halls is the stabbing last year outside Montgomery Court. Heath Avery, a Portland State student and resident, attacked another student without apparent provocation. Residents from more than one building later shared various disturbing behaviors Avery had displayed in the weeks leading up to the attack, ranging from inappropriate comments to playing with knives. Avery was arrested and later convicted, but the incident is still fresh in many students’ minds.
What this incident and others like it have taught the students involved is a simple, yet effective, way of staying safe: talk.
It’s akin to the announcements you see on the bus or at the airport. If you see something, you need to say something. It’s for the best for everyone involved if potential problems are addressed right away. The best-case scenario is the problem is resolved and everyone goes home happy. In the worst-case scenario, you make someone’s day a little more tedious. But at least this way, no one gets hurt.
Safety is not restricted to the prevention of violence alone. For many students living on campus, it is the first time they’ve been away from home and mental health is another big factor of transition. Socializing and building a support group is a key factor.
One of the goals of residence life at PSU is to build communities that residents can rely on and connect with. As students bond as a community, they become more likely to recognize and to report concerns—and to support each other in times of need. It doesn’t matter if it’s as silly as needing to borrow a rubber glove or as complicated as receiving help getting off academic warning. The communities are here to help.
It’s everyone’s responsibility to keep everyone else safe. Communities are becoming more and more tightly knit at PSU, and the statistics are there to prove it.
Over the past four years, the Association of Colleges and University Housing Officers has surveyed PSU through Educational Benchmarking to determine the safety of the residence halls. The results are better every year, and Portland State consistently scores among the top safety marks.
Corey Ray, the director of Housing and Residence Life at PSU, is confident that things will only get better as time goes on.
“It is really important that if residents have concerns about safety and security issues that they do not hesitate to inform Residence Life or Campus Public Safety so we can address them,” Ray said.
So whether it’s strange behavior, unfamiliar characters or just asking whether an electric blanket is a fire hazard, there will be someone who can help. You just need to say something. ?