Edison State College Safest Campus in Florida
Edison State College safest campus in Florida
The institution is listed 10th nationally by higher education website.
Edison State College freshman Shakerrah Walls often studies on campus after dark. She’s never encountered any shady characters “hiding behind the bushes” or other uncomfortable situations.
“I feel very safe here,” said Walls, an 18-year-old psychology major from Lehigh Acres.
She has every reason to feel that way. Last week, Edison State was named as the 10th safest college campus in America and the safest in Florida by StateUniversity.com, a higher education data and information hub that ranks more than 2,000 public institutions in a variety of categories. FGCU was 146th nationally and third in Florida.
In 2010, Edison disclosed just a single incident in its annual crime report – a vehicle theft on its Charlotte campus. The college didn’t record any burglaries, assaults, larcenies, robberies or serious offenses such as rape and murder.
“They are all well-behaved, mature kids, and our community has a lot to do with that,” said Steve Nice, vice president for facilities and information technology.
Because area middle schools and high schools maintain a police presence and administrators enforce the code of conduct, Nice believes students come to Edison understanding expectations for their behavior.
The Lee campus is mostly surrounded by businesses and a private school, the Charlotte campus is enveloped by trees, and neighbors of the Collier campus include a country club and upscale condominiums. Rick Parfitt, Edison’s director of public safety, believes the lack of apartments and nearby pedestrian traffic minimizes potential for crime.
“At 10 o’clock at night, we roll up the sidewalk and everybody goes home,” Parfitt said.
That’s all going to change.
Next August, Edison will open a 404-bed residence hall on the Lee campus. It’s part of the college’s ongoing quest to enhance the first-year experience of students and improve retention, academic performance and graduation rates.
College staff members are debating whether to make the dorms dry, even for students who can legally drink, to minimize problems caused by drinking too much alcohol.
The dorms will be staffed by campus security overnight, and only students with an electronic swipe card will be allowed to access the facility. Students will sign contracts that specify both financial terms and a code of conduct.
“They’ll make sure to lay down the ground rules from the start,” Nice said.
Two years ago, Edison created its own police force to enhance campus safety. The Lee campus has four sworn, weapon-carrying police officers with full arresting powers, in addition to nine civilian public safety officers.
Collier and Charlotte each have one sworn officer, and both contract with a private security firm for additional safety personnel.
Security cameras monitor gathering spots and building entrances, and police officers and private security patrol campuses 24 hours a day, seven days a week via golf carts, Segways and on foot. They’re not just there to hunt criminals, but also to help students and faculty. Youbilson Compere, 34, of Fort Myers, was leaving his night class earlier this semester, only to find his car wouldn’t start.
So he located one of the eight blue security phones on the Lee campus, and an officer arrived a minute later.
“I have no worries here,” said Compere, a first-year radiologic technology student. “I’m always seeing security drive by in golf carts.”
Parfitt, who previously served as a lieutenant with the University of Pittsburgh’s police force, believes a comprehensive security plan only goes so far in maintaining a safe college campus.
Edison is blessed, he said, to have diligent students who are serious about their studies, and honest.
“We’ve had people turn in cash,” Parfitt said.