Local News

Teacher Assault Changes Security Effort

Posted August 17, 1998

— While new and returning college students have classes and fun on their minds, they're also thinking about safety. Last spring, an N.C. State professor was nearly beaten to death on campus. Now the school is tightening security.

Dana Latch was attacked in her office at Harrelson Hall back in May. As students returned for the first day of classes, some remembered what happened, while others had heard nothing about it. The assault has certainly made a difference in the way campus security is trying to protect students and faculty.

Returning N.C. State students are seeing a lot more red and white around campus, but the school colors on security signs actually mean there are more places students can go to when they need help.

Campus security has installed several more of the blue light emergency stations that connect to university police. Other security improvements include more lighting and increased campus police patrols.

"As far as public safety, you see them everywhere," says freshman Mary Hudson. "I was walking to class this morning, and you see them in front of buildings and dorms. And I feel pretty safe."

Students say they feel safer because of security systems in several campus buildings.

"Many buildings are now going to where, in certain offices, you can have panic buttons for those who have to work late," explains Sgt. Larry Ellis.

Ellis says interest in building alarm systems has increased since Latch was attacked inside Harrelson Hall. Now more than 30 academic buildings have new alarms or security systems.

"We do have assaults that can occur," Ellis says. "We do have robberies. We have 35,000 people. To say that this is a crime-free community is not facing reality. We tell students, the [resident assistants] and public safety are not going to tuck you in tonight. You have to turn that lock."

That message has gotten through to some students.

"You've got to keep in mind that no matter how high the security level is, there's always the chance that something like that is going to happen," says George Shalhoub, an N.C. State freshman.

While there is the chance of being assaulted here on campus, police say it doesn't happen very often. Raleigh Police say last year there were 161 reported aggravated assaults that occurred within a two mile radius of campus. As for reported assaults actually on campus, there were only 11.

N.C. State Police say the increased security measures are deterrents for crime because they help make students and faculty hard targets for criminals.

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