Presence of police on a small private campus: Should the Guilford student body be worried?

Recently students on Guilford College campus received a text saying that a “North Campus apartment was broken into by 4-5 individuals, and a student was assaulted … Public Safety and Greensboro Police responded to the scene.”

The question for me is are Guilford students safe on campus?

Emilia Moscoso, who is a senior at Guilford, describes the conflicts between being a private college that is still open to Greensboro.

“Guilford is an open campus to the Greensboro community,” Moscoso said. “I think that opens opportunities for good stuff but also for bad stuff. I know … a professor got his wallet stolen from his office and … I know there were already two cases of students who lost their whole backpacks with their computers.

It seems like it is kind of a trend that people can come into the campus … that is why it’s a tricky balance between having an open campus vs not having one. I would say overall students are safe. I don’t know if their things are safe.”

As a woman on Guilford College campus, I think about my safety in relation to my environment. I think for the most part Guilford’s campus is safe, but the policy of who can come onto campus should be re-evaluated taking into consideration the definition of a private campus vs. a public campus. I think that monitoring how much access the public has to Guilford’s campus could decrease the non-student incidents.

The relationship between Public Safety and the students has been a rough journey over the last three years I have been on campus. In the past, I know that Public Safety has not followed correct protocol when reporting incidents on campus, and has not been successful in communicating and updating the students on the steps and progress of the incident. It’s hard to put trust into a system that has not been completely honest when dealing with various incidents.

Noah Jackson, another senior at Guilford, feels Campus Safety has a limited role.

“I’d say the phone alerts work alright. Public Safety is okay I guess, but I have definitely noticed that we’ve had more break-ins to vehicles and apartments, so it couldn’t hurt to have more patrols from them,” Jackson said. “I don’t see the Greensboro Police Department (GPD) doing more in our area, but I think if Public Safety had more resources it would be better. I mean, there is only so much they (Public Safety) can do. If something actually happens, most of the time they would just wait until GPD gets here. I feel like their main job is making sure people have a parking pass and the parties are not too loud.”

The Greensboro Police work with Guilford’s Public Safety when investigating incidents on campus, and every time an incident is reported the Greensboro Police are notified.

I think that there is a major dilemma that could impact student safety on campus. The dilemma is to find the balance between feeling safe without having a large police presence on campus.

Two years ago, the Greensboro police led a sting-operation on campus. The police disguised themselves as Guilford students and lived in the North Apartments. They attempted to catch drug dealers who were students on campus.

The rumors were that Guilford College was unaware of this, but that is not substantiated. There have been some serious incidents ranging from sexual assault to car break-ins. The campus has some real safety issues.   

There remains a question of how involved should the Greensboro Police be on Guilford campus?  There is a way that having police on campus in a sting operation removes drug dealers, but it is also an invasion of the Guilford community. There need to be limits set so that the trust, as well as the safety, of the community grows.

“Recently I saw a Greensboro Police car parked in Frank’s parking lot in the morning, and I thought that was kind of interesting that they were just hanging around school,” said Moscoso. “I don’t know what the purpose of that was. I know that there has to be some kind of communication between Public Safety and them, and none the less it’s a private campus and so I think there are certain things that they shouldn’t be too involved with…but they shouldn’t make their presence so strong on a private campus.”

I do believe that the Greensboro Police should have a presence on campus, but there should be limitations unless it’s a major incident. For anybody, I think not feeling safe in an environment can be jarring and certainly does not produce a healthy learning space for students. There is no way to ensure students’ safety on campus, but there could be more Public Safety patrols.

I do think one way to make Guilford’s campus safer is to add a few blue light phones in less trafficked areas and places that are not well lit. I think utilizing this resource would increase students’ sense of safety on campus and be a way for Public Safety to be notified right away without students having to get out their phones and call them. It saves students time and gets immediate help and response.

I don’t think that there is one solution to increase students’ safety, but the solution is a combination of resources that could bring more ease to people’s minds on Guilford’s campus.


Editor’s note: This story originally was published in Volume 106, Issue 4 of The Guilfordian on Nov. 1 2019.