Editorial: Abduction raises security red flags

On Monday, a series of messages were issued from Rider Alert regarding the attempted abduction of a student on campus. The suspect was an older man who went to Z parking lot and tried to get an unnamed female student to get into his car. But the most disturbing part of this case was that students have reported seeing the suspect on campus before.

This latest report has students on edge about the level of security on campus. How could no one on the Public Safety staff have noticed this man before? He was described as wearing a gray beret and pointed brown boots when he was taken into custody, an outfit that hardly blends in. Was this something that could have been prevented with tighter campus security or was it an event beyond our control?

Our attempts to reach administration and Public Safety officials to answer this question were unsuccessful. Here’s what we found using The Source and students’ experiences: Until 8 p.m. every night, anyone can walk or drive onto campus. There is no sign-in or check-in done for cars that are not registered to campus until someone is in the security kiosk by the South entrance at 8. Even then, some students claim they can hold up anything resembling a Rider ID and be admitted.

There is a lane at the South entrance where Rider students can simply swipe their IDs, eliminating the need to go past Public Safety to get onto campus. However, this lane has been closed since the start of the semester or before. Opening this lane would give students another way to get on campus, as well as ensure that all cars coming in are, in fact, Rider students.

Before 8, there isn’t anyone at the security kiosk to have guests sign out temporary parking passes, so it is assumed that those guests go to the Public Safety office to fill out the paperwork. Most likely, however, guests do not do that and automatically go to the visitor’s lot or O lot in front of the security kiosk before walking onto campus to go where they want to go.

We could blame Public Safety for not being tight enough with the security, but it’s not all up to them. Students know that they shouldn’t prop open main entrances to the buildings or their own dorm room doors. Also, if they have a guest staying over, they are to sign that guest in with their Resident Advisor (RA). But these rules usually aren’t followed. On our Facebook page, students have reported main entrances being propped open so that anyone can walk in, making the students feel uneasy in their own residence halls. If a student is in his or her residence hall and sees someone waiting outside the main door, don’t let him or her in. And register a guest. It takes two minutes and allows RAs to know exactly who is in the buildings at all times.

It must be a school-wide effort to keep the campus safe. Public Safety should patrol at all times, even during the day, and look out for suspicious non-students. We commend Public Safety for the quick, effective response to the event. But students still don’t know what the man looks like, and it would  help to have a mug shot on campus so students know if they see him.

Students should be aware of any possible ways that a non-Rider person could enter their residence halls and campus facilities, or in this case, walk through parking lots. And everyone should be aware of his or her surroundings, especially who is close by, and walk with other people whenever possible.

This incident happened once and could happen again, but not if students, faculty and Public Safety officials alike abide by simple safety measures and look out for suspicious behavior.

This weekly editorial expresses the majority opinion of The Rider News. This week’s editorial was written by the Opinion Editor, Angelique Lee.

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