YSU poll shows students think campus remains safe

Security has been bumped up at public places, but students still must go to class.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Americans are vulnerable, not just abroad, but at home. Airports, ball games and every other public gathering place is a potential target, including college campuses.
At Youngstown State University, that doesn't worry some students polled by The Vindicator. They feel as safe -- or unsafe -- as they ever have.
"I feel safe as long as I'm on campus," said Mona Dawoud, a 21-year-old graduate student from Israel.
Dawoud lives on campus and said she sees YSU police patrolling the area regularly, which helps her feel secure; she also has friends who live on campus. She's only been in the United States one month, Dawoud explained, so she isn't sure how safe she would feel off campus.
Tonya Payne, a 28-year-old senior, isn't so sure the YSU campus is safe, however.
"I never did feel safe on campus," she said. That hasn't changed since the terrorist attacks. "I'm from Youngstown," she explained, and aware of the shootings and other violent crimes that take place in the city.
Payne said she's also seen people loitering around campus who clearly are not students, has been approached by panhandlers, and has heard about a man exposing himself to students near a restroom in the student center.
The terrorist attacks haven't made her feel any more vulnerable, she said. It is the questionable characters she's always seen that worry her.
"There are people around here who aren't mentally sane," she added.
Uncertainty: Marty Whitmore, a 21-year-old honor student from Southington, has mixed emotions.
"I feel fairly safe," he said. "I don't carry anything to protect myself." As an after thought, he added, "Maybe I should."
Whitmore lives on campus and said that during the day he never worries about his safety. At night, it's a different story, however. He said he looks over his shoulder continuously once the sun goes down, especially when he's walking alone. Once he's in his dorm, Whitmore said he feels secure. The check-in system at Cafaro House is good, he noted, and there is a security officer.
Before she started classes at YSU, Saudi Pettigrew, a 24-year-old senior from Edinburg, expected the worst.
"I thought it would be scary, especially at night in the parking deck," she said. "I wondered, 'Do they have police escorts?'" Her fears were allayed as soon as she visited the campus.
"You don't need an escort," she said. "I feel really safe."
Two of her friends, Joanna Pesta, 27, a senior in the school of Health and Human Services, and Yvonne Chick, 28, a junior, agree.
"I feel safe. I've had no problem so far," Pesta said. "I never even think about it."
There may be a lot of crime in the city neighborhoods surrounding YSU, Chick said, "but on campus I feel safe." Even so, she said, "I keep my keys in my hand, just in case. You never know. You have to be on guard."
Monique Wright Benjamin, a 30-year-old senior feels safe on campus, too.
"I'm here five days a week and there's not a day that goes by that I don't see a police officer. This is not a place you would expect a terrorist," she said.
However, "when you think about it, this could be a target because you wouldn't expect it," she reflected. "But I hope it never will be."