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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, November 24, 2003

UH plans to expand security on campus

 •  Chart: UH-Manoa campus crime statistics

By Beverly Creamer
Advertiser Education Writer

With seven sexual assaults on the University of Hawai'i-Manoa campus since the beginning of 2003 — five since the fall semester began — campus security is being beefed up.

UH Wahine softball team members Noelle Izumi, left, and Marie Jackson get a ride to the Hale Wainani dorms from student security officer Aaron Graham, who escorts students to their residences.

Eugene Tanner • The Honolulu Advertiser

Plans are under way to install better lighting in dim areas, form a cadre of student security and broaden an escort service that provides a buddy to drive coeds home late at night, and hours have been extended to 11 p.m. for the campus shuttle.

Students are feeling apprehensive, especially after an October rape near a parking structure, and some are changing their routines out of safety concerns.

Sophomore Toni Davidson, 19, has stopped running alone after dark along the field below the dorms and admits there are "scary" areas after dark.

"I was never afraid down here until I heard about the rape," Davidson said. "Now I'll only run with friends."

Awareness across campus is high. The university's campus security Web site warns of the recent sexual assaults under the heading "Warning for all at UH-Manoa," and dorms have been flooded with fliers warning students to lock their doors at night.

At least two of the assaults occurred when intruders walked in through unlocked dorm room doors.

Three others involved acquaintances of the victims, with the most notorious a rape that occurred around 7:30 p.m. Oct. 7 near the large parking structure on Lower Campus Road. That incident involved three men and a female student who was walking back to her dorm from the gym.

During the weekend, the security office launched an expanded escort service by stationing the first ever student security officer in the parking structure to give rides to coeds walking home late. He's the first of a student security cadre that will become additional eyes and ears offering help around the dorms.

Call security to get a ride

For a ride home on or near the UH-Manoa campus, call the campus security office at: 956-8211 or 956-6911.

As of 6 p.m. Thursday night, Aaron Graham was waiting in an electric golf cart between the tennis courts and the parking structure to drive anyone who needed a lift to the dorms half a mile away. It meant returning students could avoid a dark corridor between the tennis courts and an equally dark path up toward a flight of stairs.

"If I come back late I'm nervous," admitted Carynn Takushi, a 21-year-old junior who hitched a ride with Graham on Thursday after getting off work and parking her car in the structure after dark. On nights she works late, Takushi said she'll take the ride rather than tromp the path that goes in and out of patches of darkness.

"I don't think anyone is really concerned about being robbed or jumped," said Graham, the son of a Florida police chief. "It's concern about the sexual assaults.

"There are a dozen little walkways that are horribly dark. There are these little paths (all over campus) that really don't have any lighting. When I was doing foot patrols, I'd see tons of people walking by themselves through these really dark areas that creeped me out. Maybe they didn't know that an escort is available just by making a call."

Graham will be there Thursday through Sunday from 6 to 11 p.m., and if he's not enough to handle the demand for escort from the lower campus to the dorms, more escorts will be added.

"We're working with campus security to develop a much bigger squad of student campus security monitors," said interim housing director Margit Misangyi Watts. "I've asked for four or five more we can put in place with the opening of Gateway cafeteria in January. If it's open 24 hours, we need more security just walking around the dorms."

But often students do take chances, Watts said. They'll park on the side streets off Dole Street and cut through the unlighted Kanewai Park that butts up against the Diamond Head side of the dorms. It's a wide, grassy stretch behind Hokulani Elementary School, with tennis courts and a basketball area by the road, and lights that only occasionally stay on after dark.

Dawn Ikeda, a 21-year-old junior, knows that because she often finds herself cutting across the park after dark, with only a cell phone for self-defense.

"I walk briskly," she said. She usually tries to bring her boyfriend with her, but he's not always available.

At an information session last week, campus security personnel urged students to call an officer for a ride back to a dorm, no matter what time it is. The 68 emergency phones on campus are direct lines to the security office.

"We offer escorts at night to anybody on campus," said campus security officer Donald Dawson. "Faculty, staff, student, visitor, anyone who finds themselves alone and uncomfortable and needs to get from one spot to another. We've been doing this for years."

Even so, some nights there may be only a single call, Dawson said.

Of great importance, however, is having students understand that they need to think defensively.

"Students at that age think they're immortal," Watts said. "They put themselves in situations that can become dangerous. We're scrambling constantly trying to figure out how to create more assistance so they'll be less likely to make the decision to walk across a dark park."

Senior Camille Galvez agrees that students must always be aware of their surroundings, and alert for trouble. "It's common sense," said Galvez, 21, striding back to her dorm along Lower Campus Road. "It means not walking there — on a dark path — or going into the parking structure if a bunch of guys are calling to you. It's being aware of what's around you."

Reach Beverly Creamer at bcreamer@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8013.

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UH-Manoa campus crime statistics
Crime statistics on the UH-Manoa campus over the past six years. Further information on campus crime is posted at www.hawaii.edu/security:
Source: University of Hawai'i Security Office