Off-campus dorms’ poor security causes concern

Several students have reported attempted break-ins, lower safety precautions, and thefts at Chico State’s University Village.

UV is a university–owned, gated, suite-style community near campus. Since UV is off-campus, they have different rules and regulations than the on-campus dorms. Other dormitories need to be accessed through a main office, but at UV, with its apartment-style set up, students can enter on their own with reduced security.

Melissa Juan, first-year and criminal justice major, noticed someone attempting to break in one night.

“While we were sleeping, we heard someone trying to break into our dorm very late at night,” Juan said. “We were very frightened and scared to even check.” The incident has been reported to University Housing.

Guadalupe Cruz, first-year and psychology major, explained how UV doesn’t feel safe to her.

“I noticed that it’s good that only students who live in UV can get inside, but the door is low enough for someone to reach over and open (it),” Cruz said. “Also when people are exiting with their cars, the gates stay open long enough for someone to walk in through there.”

“Bike thefts are super common at UV as well. My roommate left a plant outside on the patio in our dorm and the next day, it wasn’t there. It makes me feel like I can’t leave anything outside because of the frequent small thefts that occur at UV,” Cruz said.

Cruz said she feels that UV’s rules and regulations are still up to the same bar as other dorms on campus, but that UV seems to be more loose with the regulation of students. Off-campus residents do have a bit more freedom than, for example, Whitney, but some students take advantage of that freedom and do things such as try to break into other dorms or steal.

“My roommates and I were written up because of some Halloween decorations we had on our windows, but some of my friends over at Sutter weren’t written up for doing the same thing. So the rules amongst the dorms are very fluid,” Cruz said when asked about how the rules at UV compared to other dorms at Chico State.

UPD Commander Christopher Nicodemus explained that police involvement with the dorms is a top priority.

“We patrol the dorms daily, if not several times a week,” he said. “We have fully trained officers and a full dispatch center for the students living in housing as well as all students in Chico.”

“UV is a little different because it’s off campus and it has a perimeter fence around it as well as electronic access,” Nicodemus said. “Cameras are up around the exterior of the living areas. Each area is different…geographically, but each dorm follows the same rules and regulations. They all have professional staff located in each area…to keep students safe.”

“We noticed that (at) the start of every semester, there’s an increase in theft,” Nicodemus said. “We also know that it isn’t unique to us. Theft is very common in the state of California in general. But with the increase in theft, there is also an increase in recovery as well.”

“We are still working with the school to figure out a more secure way to (keep) items, such as more bike lockers, secure bike areas that are monitored by cameras, more areas with card access — but all of this is in a planning process,” he said.

Nicodemus explained that when situations occur, Residential Advisors and a full, professional staff are located at the dorms. Everyone is fully trained and informed of safety plans and have communication between all the resources for student safety in case of emergencies.

“The students obviously venture out to the city of Chico, which is out of our jurisdiction, but we do have a communication with Chico Police Department in case of things or emergencies concerning our students were to occur,” Nicodemus said. “But CPD isn’t heavily involved with dorm life because that’s more of our area of expertise.”

The university is continually adding staff and upgrading safeguards such as card access and improved lighting for students to ensure safety in dorm life on and off campus.

The Facilities and Maintenance department and Executive Director of Housing were both reached out for comments on this story, but were unavailable to answer.

Angelina Mendez can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_angie on Twitter.