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Campus security is rolling out a new security system

Hillsdale College Security is rolling out a new app that enables stu­dents and faculty to help keep them­selves and their peers safe. 

Rave Guardian, an app designed by Rave Mobile Security, cur­rently serves half of all college stu­dents in America. Hillsdale’s IT department will release a version per­son­alized to Hillsdale’s campus and security team in the next two weeks. 

The app will augment the security department’s old app, Alertus, which only allows the college to “push” infor­mation out to stu­dents. With Rave Guardian, stu­dents them­selves can feed infor­mation, warnings, and safety con­cerns to campus security through the app for campus-wide release. They will also be able to make requests for imme­diate assis­tance from campus security, local law enforcement, or each other. 

Sophomore Gladys Oster, an RA in Benzing, has already been given a run-through of the new app so that she can encourage her res­i­dents to download it. 

“I like it because it gives an oppor­tunity not only for campus security to say ‘watch out,’ but for us to be able to com­mu­nicate back with them,” Oster said. “I think that is a good factor because they want to know what the stu­dents are seeing as well.” 

Joe Kellam, asso­ciate director of security and emer­gency man­agement, played a pivotal role in making this jump in the college’s safety pro­ce­dures. 

“Our number-one job is to provide a safe and non-invasive envi­ronment,” Kellam said. “We looked at options where we could put call boxes out, but that didn’t seem suf­fi­cient. And then, about a year ago, we started a search for security options on a phone because that would always be with them.” 

One of the app’s key fea­tures is a panic button that con­nects directly to 911. When a student down­loads the app, they have the option to add infor­mation such as their name, address, photo, vehicle infor­mation, and medical records. If a student sets their pref­er­ences to allow it, when 911 gets an alert from the student, all of that student’s infor­mation will pop up to help the 911 operator handle the sit­u­ation. 

The app also offers a GPS tracking beacon that can be ini­tiated by the user. If ini­tiated, a 911 operator can track the location of the phone as it moves. The security team also worked this summer to upload to the app digital floor plans of every building on campus so that the GPS tracking beacon can identify from what building and floor a dis­tress call orig­i­nates. 

This year, the security team also opened a student-staffed dis­patch center to work in con­junction with Rave Guardian. A student can request imme­diate help from the 24/7 dis­patch center any­where on or around campus. Even if a student simply feels uncom­fortable walking home alone, he or she can request a ride from security officers. 

The student input com­ponent of the app enables stu­dents to help other stu­dents by sub­mitting security con­cerns or sus­pi­cious activ­ities to the security department, who can then push this infor­mation out to the entire campus. 

Stu­dents can also protect each other through Rave with the “guardian” feature, which allows a student to send a friend a noti­fi­cation that he is on his way home. The student inputs his expected time of arrival, where he is coming from, and his final des­ti­nation. His selected guardian can then accept the request. Once the request is accepted, if the student does not select the trip as com­pleted within the allotted time, his guardian will get a noti­fi­cation. 

From there, a guardian will have access to the student’s location on a map and can alert security if the sit­u­ation seems sus­pi­cious. 

Both Kellam and Rebekah Dell, asso­ciate dean of women, said they are hopeful the app will become a staple for stu­dents. 

Kellam said he gathered a group of student interns to review pro­mo­tional material for the app. 

“We showed them options and 100 percent said they would be inter­ested in down­loading it,” Kellam said. 

Dell said the app is another oppor­tunity to connect and strengthen the Hillsdale com­munity. 

“It is a benefit for any student to download and take advantage of Rave, and be in the know,” Dell said. “In some ways, you are your brother’s keeper, because it allows you to be a force for the safety and care of your peers. You are helping campus just as much as yourself. You can be well-informed and a force for sup­porting your peers in all things.”