Owned and published by UMHB, The Bells is a biweekly publication. This content was previously published in print on the Opinions page. Opinions expressed in this section do not necessarily reflect the views of the staff or the university.
There are only two major events that happened on campus in the past few years that would cause concern. On Jan. 25, an email was sent out to students and faculty about a suspicious man whom they were hoping to identify. According to campus police, he did not do anything illegal, but had approached students earlier in the week and said things that made students concerned. No threats were made, and the police were able to identify the man on Jan. 26 with the help of the Belton police Bell County Sheriff’s department. The last major incident was a sexual assault that happened at Independence Village during the spring semester of 2017.
With the most recent incident on campus, some students have said they felt that the UMHB campus should become closed. These students think that this will make the campus safer. I personally think that the campus is already safe and that a closed or “gated” campus would be more restrictive to students and Belton civilians.
Thankfully, up to this point there haven’t been any other major crimes on campus. UMHB’s Chief of Police, Gary Sergeant, said that in the past year there has been less than 100 crimes committed on campus and a majority of them were minor offenses.
“The university has always had a strong commitment to campus safety, and we do our best to find a happy medium between security and accessibility,” Sergeant said.
Technically, UMHB is considered to be an open campus. A closed campus is identified as a campus that restricts access with fencing, gating, guard stations and special access cards for students/faculty. UMHB has shown consistency with certified police officers patrolling 24/7 and security guards who patrol the buildings and parking lots.
All resident halls can only be entered by students living there and all other buildings on campus require a cru card for entry after the buildings close. UMHB also has trained professionals on call (254-295-5555) and a total estimate of around 400 security cameras spread around campus.
There are universities such as Rice University and Dallas Baptist University that are gated and have very strict rules for students. There are other colleges like University of Texas or Baylor University who are considered open campuses because of how spread apart and open to the public they are. Compared to these schools, I believe UMHB is well balanced with security and accessibility.
UMHB would not be able to completely close off the campus because of where the campus is located and how integrated we are in the surrounding community. There are many neighborhoods surrounding our campus, and Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd is used by Belton’s citizens as well as students.