Buffalo State is a Safe Place to Study, Work and Visit | Commentary
By President Aaron Podolefsky
Over the past several weeks, concerns regarding the safety of Buffalo State’s college community have been raised mainly in response to media attention that’s been given to off- and on-campus security incidents involving our students that have occurred during the fall semester. The cumulative impact of these events has resulted in a misperception about the safety of our campus and has overshadowed the fact that Buffalo State is a safe place to study, work and visit.
Buffalo State is an open urban 125-acre campus, connected to and surrounded by the City of Buffalo’s West Side neighborhoods. Located in the heart of the city’s vibrant museum district in the Elmwood-Grant corridor, our faculty and staff members and students are proud to work and live in such a culturally rich and diverse city that’s home to an array of cultural and recreational activities.
Without question, Buffalo State places the highest priority on the safety of our 12,000 students, including more than 2,500 resident students, and 1,700 faculty and staff members. Given the size of the campus population and the number of students living on campus, we have given special attention to developing a comprehensive security approach and have preventative measures in place to provide the safest environment possible for our entire college community.
In fact, in recent years, Buffalo State has experienced a decrease in on-campus crime. From 2009-11, violent crime decreased 20 percent and it appears we are on track for further reduction in the current year. Property crime decreased even more by a remarkable 33 percent from 2008-11. Based on the college’s Annual Security Report, off-campus crimes involving Buffalo State students have also shown a decrease. Yet, the attention received pertaining to the recent safety occurrences nearby and on-campus has led to speculation that these incidents are happening at Buffalo State with greater frequency.
As an urban-based institution, we are committed to community policing and working closely with area law enforcement agencies to proactively address crime and safety issues. However, we are also cognizant that even with the array of safety initiatives and procedures we have established the expectation of a completely crime-free environment is improbable on our campus as it is at any other large university across the U.S.
Focusing on the well-being of the Buffalo State campus population, we are fortunate to have an experienced, committed University Police Department on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They are vigilant in providing and refining the department’s daily efforts to keep our campus safe.
Along with adjusting and enhancing Buffalo State’s safety protocols as needed, we have reinforced and raised awareness of the security- and safety-related measures we have available that are intended to ensure the maximum protection of every individual in our college community. Among our many safeguards are the University Police Department’s safe escort program, which provides a walking companion or ride on campus; vehicle, foot and bicycle patrols are conducted by our officers around the clock on campus to monitor and maintain security; campus blue light phones enable individuals to quickly reach University Police any time day or night; an improved emergency system is in place to alert the college community about serious safety issues; students are educated about personal safety and precautions to take to protect themselves against crime while on and off campus; and students residing in nearby off-campus neighborhoods are instructed on ways to stay safe in the community.
In addition, we have a developed a positive presence in the Buffalo community through our Committee on University and Community Relations, several college-community partnerships, service learning projects and through various other efforts.
Buffalo State is dedicated to offering our students a safe educational setting where they can study, socialize and enjoy a positive college experience. We are strongly committed to providing a caring campus environment and creating a culture where safety is of fundamental importance. All of us at Buffalo State take very seriously the concerns about the safety of our students, faculty and staff members. We will continue to review our safety practices to take every possible precaution to further enhance the security of our entire campus community. As a whole, our faculty, staff and students are proud to be a part of this dynamic city and enjoy the many nearby museums, trendy cafes, restaurants, shops, parks and other great assets in the area.
Aaron Podolefsky, Ph.D., is president of Buffalo State and has authored books on crime prevention in urban America. He received a doctorate in anthropology from the State University of New York at Stony Brook.