Student safety at BYU? Some have worries about a variety of challenges

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By Kate Parrish and Emma Keddington

A student walks home on 800 North in Provo, a street known for its busy intersection and heavy traffic. Students speaking with The Daily Universe mentioned different ways they feel unsafe on campus. (Megan Spencer)

BYU has a reputation for being a safe campus according to an ‘A-‘ grading from Niche. However, students speaking with The Universe mentioned different ways they feel unsafe on campus. 

When asked about where she feels unsafe, Ashley Stewart emphatically said, “South campus!”

This is an area where many students mentioned not feeling safe because of the lack of lighting at night, said Natalie Grant, a pre-communications major from Katy, Texas.

In March 2021, The Daily Universe covered five gropings reported around BYU property. Some of these gropings occurred by the Life Sciences Building which is located in the southern part of the BYU campus. One of the assaults occurred in the evening.

The Daily Universe also reports crime statistics weekly that occur on BYU property or in Provo. On Sept. 8, a student reported being confronted in a parking lot near the Broadcast Building by a man who had previously engaged in unwanted contact. On Sept. 13, there was a sexual assault reported at the Y Trail Head parking lot.

Grant said that because of her late classes she has to walk past the Maeser Building. “It’s always super dark and there’s always these bushes so something could totally be hiding in there.”

It is not only south of campus where students feel unsafe in the dark, but also the west side of campus. Skylar Craig, a chemical engineering major from Fallon, Nevada, said she tries not to think about it.

Craig said she doesn’t like walking in the dark by the exercise buildings which are located on the west side of campus. Thomas Smith from Daytona Beach, Florida shared a similar concern.

“The back side going down the RB stairs, like walking around at night it’s a little spooky,” the pre-business major said.

Concern about safety on campus is not limited to walking home alone at night. Students interviewed by The Universe have also shared concerns about COVID-19 protocols, pedestrian safety and cultural attitudes.

Kara Hunter, an environmental geology major, described a COVID-19 related safety concern. She shared how the issue of not wearing masks in classrooms is worrying for her.   

This concern is shared by many students as reflected in a national survey from June 30, 2021. More than 1,050 college students were polled and 31% said “they would not feel safe at all returning to their campuses for the upcoming semester” because they did not have faith in the ability of their peers to follow protocol. 

Another worry that is local to the Provo community is pedestrian safety.

Shiloh Rasmussen, a biodiversity and conservation major from Oregon, specifically called attention to 800 North, a street commonly used by pedestrian students, as a dangerous area. “Sometimes at night, people run across the road and it’s hard to see them on this road,” he said.

Cultural practices, such as dating via applications like Mutual, have added safety concerns about meeting up with people that users don’t know.

“I’ve gone on some of those (Mutual) dates feeling nervous for my safety,” landscape design major Aubrey Stewart said.

Stewart said that in a culture where many of the individuals are members of the Church, people can be too trusting. This can cause certain situations where people are taken advantage of. 

If anyone feels unsafe walking by themselves, the BYU app offers a SafeWalk feature. The feature allows the BYU University Police to watch app users’ routes home to make sure they make it back safely.

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