I last wrote a piece on why higher ed marketers should care about campus security in 2019.
Of course, a lot has happened since then, for better and worse.
Campus security has become a hot-button issue of late with the terrible loss of life at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, a few months ago.
At the time of writing this article, 27 school shootings were reported in the U.S. in 2022, resulting in 83 fatalities or injuries.
Granted, higher ed institutions are a small percentage of incidents like these. The last deadly mass shooting at a college campus was the Grambling State incident in October 2021.
However, the U.S. Department of Education reported that 5,930 higher ed institutions documented over 28,000 crimes in 2020.
Parents and students care about safety on school campuses. As higher ed marketers, you should, too.
Here are three reasons why campus security should be a priority in your enrollment marketing strategy.
1. Campus Security is Important to Parents
As I disclosed in my previous blog on this subject, I am not a security expert.
But parents are concerned about their children’s personal safety at their home away from home. I should know – I’m one of them. Campus security is a personal issue for me.
I want to know that my children’s schools have measures in place to keep them safe.
Talk to your school’s security team and ask what they are proactively doing to ensure the security of your students and faculty.
- Has your campus had emergency call boxes installed?
- Do you offer students a security escort at night?
- Are aid stations clearly marked?
- Does your school have a crime hotline?
Here’s an excellent example from the University of Wisconsin Police Department’s website:
Not only does the UWPD address crime concerns, but they’ve also indexed weather, fire, and other preventive measures.
Of course, your school may not have the budget to fund its own police department. But that does not prevent you from building brand trust in your campus security.
Some schools are going above and beyond by addressing off-campus issues, as well.
For instance, Temple University has implemented a “Good Neighbor Initiative” to encourage students to be mindful of their behavior in the surrounding community.
By giving your campus security resources a platform, your students’ parents will be at ease knowing your school takes their children’s safety seriously.
2. Mental Health and Campus Security are Linked
Mental health has been at the forefront of many violent crimes in American schools, including college campuses. But another historic event put a spotlight on our students’ mental health.
The pandemic was a double-edged sword concerning the subject. While the resulting precautions helped raise mental health awareness, COVID’s negative impact on mental health cannot be understated.
Students’ mental health was pushed to the limit between canceled sporting events and a sudden shift to online learning.
Thankfully, the U.S. seems to be passing through our COVID winter, but that doesn’t mean the risk of disruption is gone for good.
In short, students have plenty of reasons to be stressed in 2022. And you can’t be sure how some of them may deal with it if left unaddressed.
Everyone can use a shot of optimism during high-stress periods – especially during exams!
A blanket multi-channel campaign for your campus could be in the form of an email or social media blitz.
However, you will have students who may need a more personal touch. Therefore, I recommend that every school give students access to a crisis or counseling center – if not on campus, then at a medical center nearby.
If your campus offers student and faculty resources addressing mental health, spread awareness!
For instance, the University of Kentucky’s Counseling Center showcases several options for assistance:
The “Students Services” section also offers individual, group, and relationship counseling.
The availability of mental health services like these is essential for your students’ success and safety. In addition, by showcasing them in your enrollment marketing strategy, prospective students with pre-diagnosed mental health challenges are more likely to consider your campus.
3. Students Also Care About Safety
Don’t let anyone fool you into thinking campus security isn’t at the forefront of students’ minds.
A joint research venture by security firm ADT and Clery Center, a nonprofit dedicated to campus safety, found that 82 percent of students cared about campus security.
However, that’s not to say that students generally feel unsafe on school grounds.
According to this June article, college and university students were six times more likely to feel safe on campus than not.
However, those numbers shift dramatically if we narrow the results down to female and minority students.
For example, only 22 percent of female students surveyed felt they were very safe on their campus.
The dark reality is that out of those U.S. Department of Crime statistics I cited earlier, 10,433 of the reported college campus crimes in 2020 were sexual offenses.
Also, according to this Best Colleges article, college campuses reported almost 2,000 hate crimes in 2019.
(For clarification, the FBI describes a hate crime as a violation motivated by the victim’s “race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.”)
These statistics show that campus security entails far more than violent crime prevention.
Let’s take a look at what Randolph-Macon College is doing to put prospective students’ and their parents’ minds at ease:
As you can see, Randolph-Macon has charts detailing multiple crime statistics for their campus. Feel free to click on the link above to see the entirety of their records (spoiler: they show zeros across the board).
If your school is prioritizing the protection of your students, then posting hard numbers like these will generate positive interest.
Campus Security Matters in Marketing
I understand that campus security is not under the marketing department’s purview. But safety concerns impact everyone – not just security personnel.
Talk to your school’s security professionals to get a clear picture of their priorities.
Spreading campus security awareness will build trust in your school’s brand with both parents and students alike.Click to tweet
Have any questions about how you can market campus security or other initiatives to pump your school’s brand? Feel free to contact us!
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Featured image by Felipe Sanchez via Adobe Stock