Campus Encouraged to Put Safety First

To help prioritize security on campus, the RIC Campus Police will deliver a series of weekly safety tips to students, faculty and staff.

“When a campus like ours hasn’t had any major safety problems, students get a sense of security,” said Fred Ghio, chief of Campus Police. “Our students feel safe here, which they should. But they still need to be aware of their surroundings.”

The Campus Police will send an email each Wednesday for the next five weeks with two or three tips on how the campus community can take charge of their own safety. Once the spring 2014 semester has ended, the entire safety tips list will be available on the Campus Police website at

“This is another avenue to get the word out to students, faculty and staff,” Ghio said. “This supplements our existing efforts, including seminars and discussions, to ensure a safe campus environment.”

Safety tips will cover a broad range of topics, including some centered on how students can protect themselves in social situations. For instance, Ghio said, students should not go to an off-campus event unless they go in a group of people. That’s advice he gave to each of his three daughters when they were in college.

“Our campus is located in a city. We have been very safe, but anything can change in a minute,” Ghio said. “Students and staff need to take certain things into consideration.”

According to data provided to the U.S. Department of Education under the Clery Act, RIC had few on-campus criminal incidents from 2010 to 2012, the latest years for which data is publicly available.

Ghio said the campus did experience a rash of automobile thefts and break-ins in 2012. The Campus Police worked with the Providence Police Department to identify the responsible parties, who turned out to be individuals unaffiliated with RIC who lived in nearby.

Victimized students, Ghio said, had left valuables, including laptop computers and wallets, visible on their car seats, and, in some cases, had left their cars unlocked.

“Criminals go for the soft target,” Ghio said. “Sometimes students are in a hurry to get to class, and because they feel safe, they can be careless.”

Resident students also need to take caution at the end of the semester when they are preparing to move out of resident halls, Ghio said. Students sometimes, he said, will pack their cars in advance of moving out, which can make them vulnerable to theft.

Tips also will be offered on ensuring safety in the residence halls. Ghio encourages students to report any unusual persons they might see inside dormitories, even if they are reluctant to do so.

“A lot of times, students do not want to question people,” Ghio said. “But they don’t have to. They should call us and we will be right there.”