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How Chicago colleges are keeping students safe

Chicago public transportation is used by more than 1.59 million people a day according to the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA). Meaning virtually everyone also has a story about something happening on their commute.  

Chicago is known for its transit, with the elevated train that runs around the loop, underground trains, and street side busses. Columbia College Chicago sits right in the middle of the South Loop in downtown Chicago. The CTA surrounds the school and is the second largest transportation system in the United States with eight individual rail lines and around 129 bus stops as of  2016.   

With almost two million people using the system daily, crime does occur. The Chicago Tribune reported that the rate of violent crime remains “more than twice as high as the years before the pandemic.” However, it looks like the numbers have been going down. With the April 4 election shifting the mayoral administration, Chicago will be watching how the upcoming Johnson administration will deal with this issue and many others that concern everyday Chicagoans.      

When talking to Columbia College Chicago’s security command, they had a few tips on how to keep yourself alert and safe.  

“Personal security starts with being aware of your surroundings. Sometimes that may mean putting your phone down or taking your headphones out,” Ronald Sodini, the Associate VP of security at Columbia, said. 

Sodini also shared a tip that may not be as talked about when training students on safety.  

“Share your schedule. I know we are all adults, and we want to be independent,” Sodini said.“But it’s always a great backup that someone knows your schedule and when you should be arriving so they could just check in on you.” 

Columbia has a student-made safety video that they recommend watching called Safety in the South Loop which can be found on the college’s website. 

The director of the Department of Public Safety at Illinois Institute of Technology, Andrew J. Yocum, says most recently they are seeing strongarm robberies on the CTA. Frequently, they are noticing “many crimes that we see are crimes of opportunity, where a suspect will take advantage of someone not paying attention.”  

Illinois Institute of Technology, Columbia and several other schools also offer “Safe Ride” programs. 

“We’ve seen an increase in requests for safety escorts,” Yocum said. “Our department provides safety escorts 24/7/365 for any community member from an on-campus location to another on-campus location.” 

Most colleges in the Chicago area have safety programs like the ones described in this story, and students are strongly encouraged to use them whenever they feel unsafe. Even if you aren’t a student, these tips can still be applied to your everyday commute.  

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