- Aaron Woodruff,
ISU Police Chief
Crime on a college campus is sometimes unavoidable. However, certain preventative measures can both minimize the chances of college students falling victim to crime, as well as the chances of them being personally held responsible for unlawful activities.
One dynamic that frequently factors into criminal behavior on campus is alcohol consumption. The widespread use of the substance brings about a significant need for concern in terms of campus safety for law enforcement and members of the community. Not only does alcohol impact one’s decision-making abilities, but it also decreases an individual’s awareness and in turn makes one more vulnerable to possible threats.
Illinois State University Police Chief Aaron Woodruff said that alcohol does, in fact, play an underlying role in many of the cases he deals with.
“In general, for a lot of the crimes that are reported on campus or that our officers come across, alcohol is a significant contributor,” Woodruff explained.
Some of the more common instances that campus police encounter on a regular basis, Woodruff said, are those involving verbal and physical disputes, which frequently involve individuals who are under the influence of alcohol. Increases in aggression that may come along with drinking often lead to irrational actions that will likely be regretted in hindsight.
“Our students are very smart and make good decisions at two in the afternoon, but then make very poor decisions at two in the morning,” Woodruff said. “The main difference there is alcohol.”
Aside from the fact that alcohol increases aggression, it can also directly impact individuals abilities to fend for themselves, making them an easy target and much more susceptible to becoming victims of potential crime. These risks become even more prominent during the later hours of the night due to poor visibility and the fact that many students travel alone, something Woodruff strongly advises against. Instead, he encourages the use of the buddy system as well as designating a member of the group to remain sober.
“When we talk about your best protection against being victimized by criminal attacks, it all starts with awareness… and alcohol will affect that awareness.” Woodruff said.
For some students, alcohol serves as a prominent aspect of the college lifestyle. According to Woodruff, it is also directly linked to many of the crimes that take place on campus. He advocates that if students do choose to drink, it is important they realize their risks and remain aware of their surroundings.
Caelan Murphy, freshman undeclared student, discussed some of the precautionary measures that he incorporates in order to avoid falling victim to crime while out late at night.
“Being with at least one friend greatly reduces the chance of someone even thinking about approaching you with intent to do harm,” Murphy said. “When walking late at night I also try to stay in places that are frequently used by pedestrians, rather than straying through a dark alley.”
Whether leaving a party or walking home from a late night study session at the library, students who do find themselves traveling alone are urged to request a Safe Walk escort by calling (309) 438-8631. Services such as these provide students with a safe means in finding their way home 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.