Campus safety tips to remember throughout spring quarter

Spring quarter is an active one at Western. WWU Chief of Police Katy Potts shares a few reminders to keep campus safe and sound through this busy period.

Welcome back, Western! Spring quarter is a wonderful time to be on campus. The WWU grounds crew has been hard at work keeping the greenery, flowers, and foliage of our outdoor areas of campus thriving – making, in my opinion, WWU one of the most beautiful campuses in the country.  Not only for our students, faculty, and staff, but many visitors who choose to come to campus.  

This is the second installment in a quarterly series of stories in Western Today and videos shared on social media where I will share safety tips to hopefully help you feel safer in this incredible learning community.

Keep an eye out 

With people out and about on campus more, feel free to keep an eye out for areas that could use a little maintenance to keep our campus not only beautiful but safe!

Understand the First Amendment

Spring quarter is also a time when people and groups often gather in campus open spaces like Red Square to freely express their First Amendment rights. Understand that the First Amendment of the Constitution protects speech, and any form of peaceful expression is allowed on campus if it does not disrupt instruction and university operations. The officers at Western will not and cannot impede on a person’s First Amendment right – but I want to be clear, freedom of speech is not protected when it crosses into criminal or destructive behavior such as targeted harassment, direct threats, graffiti or property damage. 

Know your resources 

This isn’t always an easy thing to navigate. WWU has a great website on Time, Place, and Manner to provide you information. Please visit this site to further understand how on-campus expression at WWU works.

You can also reach out to WWU Counseling and Wellness if you have further questions or want more support talking through this.

Here are some other ways that we can all keep our campus and neighboring environments safe and sound

Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) is the use of landscaping to protect the environment around you from crime. CPTED strategies may utilize landscaping, fencing, lighting, and building elements to reduce fear, deter criminal activity, and build a sense of security. In essence, it makes the area a less desirable place for criminal behavior by increasing the likelihood of being caught. See below on how we can work together to enhance safety on campus: 

Natural surveillance aims to increase landscape visibility. Increased visibility keeps students, faculty, and staff safer by reducing potential places for offenders to hide or escape detection. Natural surveillance also increases the perceived risk of getting caught, which, in turn, can reduce opportunities for crime to occur. Here are a few ways that we promote natural surveillance on our campus. 

  • We select fencing that allows occupants to see through to the other side. 

  • Increase visibility with proper lighting of walkways, stairs, entrances, exits, parking lots and campus ATMs. 

  • Avoid too-bright security lighting, which can create a blinding glare and deep shadows used for hiding. 

  • We keep large bushes and trees properly trimmed to increase landscape visibility. This keeps line of sight clear, especially from a distance. 

Natural Access Control limits the opportunity for crime to occur by clearly differentiating between public space and private space. This principle deters access to victims and targets and increases perception of risk to potential offenders. Here are a few ways we increase natural access control on our campus: 

  • We plant low, thorny bushes beneath ground level windows to discourage intrusion.  

  • Eliminate opportunities for unauthorized access to roofs or upper levels of a building. 

  • Utilize locked gates to keep intruders from accessing off-limit areas of campus property. 

  • We remove trees or bushes near fencing, which can be climbed and used for trespassing. 

Report areas we can improve to your campus police department at  

Wishing you all a great spring quarter!

— Chief Potts