Kutztown University addresses safety concerns before start of fall semester
Plans in place after outbreak of violence on campus during spring semester
As Kutztown University students get set to return to campus this week, school officials are taking extra steps to restore a sense of safety after a violent spring semester.
Plans call for a crime crackdown, which includes increased patrols and a new safety procedure.
"I love the campus here. I feel comfortable with it," said Dan Matuska, who was one of the few students on campus Tuesday.
Matuska is about to begin what many call, 'the best four years of your life.' He's set to start his freshman year at Kutztown, but returning sophomore, Tom Middlebrooks, felt differently. He hopes that comfortable feeling is back after a frightening spring semester.
"I'm hoping that they keep up what they did at the end of last semester where they stepped up patrols," said Middlebrooks.
That is a main part of the crime crackdown, according to school officials. It comes after three separate assaults in one week's time, including a violent dorm invasion where a victim was pistol-whipped in the head in March.
"We have instituted a 24/7 desk coverage at our residence halls this year, and our police will be very visible at the beginning of the school year," said Matt Santos, director of university relations.
The university was down a few officers in the spring, but now the police force is back to full strength. A public safety and security task force was also created in April, said officials.
The violence last spring caught the attention of Pa. Sen. Judy Schwank, who has since been in contact with university officials, the liquor control board and the district attorney to ensure students feel at ease in the fall.
"It's important that our campuses be safe not only for students, but for visitors, faculty and staff," said Schwank, D-Berks Co.
Some arrests were made in those assault cases, which helped ease students' concerns. Officials said they hope it stays that way when classes start Monday.
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