CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Students at UNC Charlotte have started a petition asking school administration to increase security on campus. It comes after several reported crimes on or near campus, including an alleged sexual assault in a campus bathroom last week.
The online petition has more than 100 signatures. It asks for more lighting and cameras on campus, a safer transportation system and more foot patrols by campus police officers.
"I think there are a lot of security measures that could be put in place that could've prevented this attack," said Patrick Tobin, who started the petition. "The most dangerous thing on campus is the absolute lack of foot patrol.”
The petition also criticizes administrators for funding the new $40 million stadium instead of security measures. Signs designed for campus protests next Monday read "40.5 million for football? How much for safety?"
"It really seems our school's priorities are not right. We spend $40 million on a football stadium, yet a lot of people don't feel safe walking home from school," said Josh Turner, a graduate student.
The entire UNC system has suffered multi-million dollar budget cuts over the past few years. The new stadium is paid for by student fees, seat licensing and private funds.
"It's our money. And one of our highest concerns is our security," said junior Gabby Alsop.
UNC Charlotte officials told NBC Charlotte they were aware of the petition.
"Reported crime in virtually every category has decreased consistently in recent years and UNC Charlotte remains vigilant to opportunities to enhance campus safety and security," said UNCC Director of Public Affairs John Bland.
At a minimum, Tobin says he hopes the petition starts a dialogue between students and staff about security on campus.
After this story aired on NBC Charlotte, UNCC's Chancellor Dubois released the following statement:
Over the past week, I have heard questions and concerns from members of our university community regarding campus safety in the wake of the recent report of a sexual assault in the Fretwell Building. I want to update you on the incident and to share some information and observations about campus safety.
You should know first and foremost that our own Police and Public Safety, with the assistance of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department, are carefully and vigorously investigating this incident. The university’s full resources are devoted to assisting the investigation, but the collection and review of evidence will be a deliberate process.
In the meantime, UNC Charlotte continues to implement improvements to keep our campus a safe place to live and work. As shown by the university’s most recent Annual Security Report, reported crime in virtually every category has decreased consistently in recent years. In response to a request earlier in the year, I have allocated funds to provide even more foot patrol officers on campus. The Student Government Association will soon issue the findings from its most recent annual Safe Walk, in which key university staff members and representatives of the SGA inspect our campus for safety and security issues; in the last few years, more than $1 million has been allocated to address the issues and concerns raised during the annual Safe Walk alone. UNC Charlotte has additionally invested nearly $5 million in a range of safety and security initiatives including lighting, state-of-the-art door access systems, the Safe Ride program and its continual assessment of effectiveness, and the installation of security cameras.
Ensuring that the UNC Charlotte campus is a safe and secure environment requires constant review and assessment of our campus safety plan. The Chancellor’s Campus Safety and Security Committee, which was chartered in 2008, is comprised of faculty, staff, and students who carefully review and provide recommendations for security measures which have been instituted across campus. The committee’s Safety and Security Report from earlier this year, as well as information regarding the committee’s work and membership, can be found at http://campussafety.uncc.edu.
Members of the university community can also help ensure their own safety by taking the precautions advised by Police and Public Safety. When possible, walk/jog/bike in groups in clear, well-lighted, well-traveled areas. Remember that you do not need to walk across campus at night. The university has developed extensive shuttle and SafeRide transportation systems that are available. You may find the SafeRide schedule of operation online. You may also use one of the 300+ “blue light” emergency phones to request an escort or report suspicious activities.