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Posted on Mon, Dec 17, 2012 : 5:57 a.m.

EMU campus patrol services increases presence following student's death

By Erica Hobbs


Student Eyes and Ears for University Safety workers are shown walking the Eastern Michigan University campus. The group has stepped up its foot patrols in the wake of the mysterious death of student Julia Niswender last week.

Students of Eastern Michigan University's walking escort and patrol service have been beefing up their campus presence since the suspicious death of fellow student Julia Niswender Tuesday. The Student Eyes and Ears for University Safety, better known as “SEEUS,” has extended its walking service hours and added additional escort staff to maintain student security.

SEEUS student supervisor Paul Wild said the organization has seen a significant increase in call volume since Tuesday, when Niswender was found dead in her apartment. Police have said there were no outward signs of trauma, but the death is being investigated as a homicide.

“We’ve been a lot busier, people have been much more aware of us,” he said.

Ashlea Martin, part of the SEEUS foot patrol, said she and other workers have actively stepped up to take extra walking shifts to respond to the increased demand.

“We don’t want students to feel unsafe on campus,” she said. “When something happens you become more aware of your surroundings, and that’s a good thing, but we don’t want it to interfere with their finals.”

Both SEEUS and the EMU Department of Public Safety have taken specific actions to increase campus security, including:

  • Extending the SEEUS walking escort service until 7 a.m. (from 3 a.m.)
  • Adding additional SEEUS escort staff
  • Designating Halle Library as a station for SEEUS walking and mobile escorts from 3-7 a.m.
  • Adding four additional campus security personnel in the overnight hours
  • Adding two additional officers to patrol from 7 p.m.-7 a.m. in addition to the normal shift coverage
  • Adjusting lighting sensors to brighten exterior security lighting in the areas adjacent to Halle Library and the College of Business
  • Adjusting the automatic timing patterns of the exterior lighting in the areas adjacent to Halle Library and the College of Business to have them turn on earlier (at 4:30 p.m., about 30 minutes before sunset) and to stay on later (8:30 a.m., or 30 minutes after sunrise)

Martin said she hasn’t felt any drastic changes in the campus atmosphere since Niswender’s death but acknowledges there is a difference.

“There’s a solemn feel to it, but I think everyone is just startled and we don’t know how to react right now,” she said. “It hasn’t been extremely different, but you can tell something’s happened.”

Students using SEEUS said they don’t feel overly concerned for their safety, but they are taking extra precautions because of the incident.

EMU freshman Tiffany Browne said she doesn’t normally use SEEUS services, but has used them twice in the past two days.

“I don’t feel more worried being on campus, necessarily,” she said. “If I a situation arose where I’d have to walk by myself, I don’t think I would feel intimidated to do so. But if SEEUS is available, which they always are, then I’m more likely to use them now.”

Shahana Ahmed, also an EMU freshman, said she too has started using SEEUS services, though she hadn’t in several months.

“I’m not more scared, it’s just I’m much more alert than I used to be,” she said. “If I do walk by myself, in the morning, I still keep vigilant. At night, I always, always, always walk with a partner right now, and it heightens your awareness of your surroundings and it does heighten your own protectiveness.”


Rob Pollard

Mon, Dec 17, 2012 : 4:35 p.m.

To contradict Silly Sally, SEEUS do "congregate", but they do so (in my experience) in places where people leaving late at night can easily utilize their services. To be specific, if you leave the Halle Library or the Student Center late at night, there are regularly two SEEUS folks there. Why would I want them wandering around, acting like rent-a-cops? That's not their role; their role is to escort people who don't want to go to/from buildings/parking lots by themselves late at night. Knowing that they'll be where you expect them helps that.


Mon, Dec 17, 2012 : 3:35 p.m.

Keep pitching fear. Meanwhile, across the river in Canada, most people continue to leave their doors unlocked.


Tue, Dec 18, 2012 : 7:52 p.m.

Yeah well its like another world over there--not all perfect either. When something bad does happen, many times the person who did the crime is out of prison in a few short years...only to repeat later on. Their police can hassle you too much as well, fines of over $2,000 and no more drivers license for just going 30 mph over their too low speed limits they got--Stunt Driving they call it. Freeways limits are 62 mph / 100km/h and in some places drop to 90 km/h--go 30 mph-50 km/h over and good bye driver license. Canada can be a nice place to visit but living there all the time has its ups and downs, I rather live in the USA, IMO

Silly Sally

Mon, Dec 17, 2012 : 3:26 p.m.

The whole problem with SEEUS is that they huddle in one spot, and on occasion will escort a student somewhere. They would be so much more effective if they would patrol around the campus, being the eyes and ears for the police, who cannot be everywhere. At other universities, UCLA for example, they have similar groups that do patrol around the campus and this works. Presently, while danger can lurk at EMU's College of Business on Michigan Ave, 4 SEEUS huddle together instead of noticing vagrants hiding in the shadows of the parking structure 200 feet away. This is a wasted resource that could do so much more if deployed differently.


Tue, Dec 18, 2012 : 7:46 p.m.

That is what the police should be doing. SEEUS needs to be careful they do not become a victim. Playing a role of a police officer can be risky.

Erica Hobbs

Mon, Dec 17, 2012 : 5:50 p.m.

a2citizen and tdw, SEEUS students are paid workers, not volunteers. We will change the caption in the photo, thanks for pointing that out.


Mon, Dec 17, 2012 : 4:55 p.m.

a2citizen.....according to the caption under the picture they are volunteers


Mon, Dec 17, 2012 : 3:40 p.m.

Are the SEEUS escorts paid or volunteer?

Matt Tuck

Mon, Dec 17, 2012 : 2:16 p.m.

This is a great thing. Many of my fellow students stay late at the Halle library. This is my fourth year here and I think the campus is totally safe, but off campus is a different story. I wish seeus could walk students to their off campus residences.


Mon, Dec 17, 2012 : 2:03 p.m.

Isn't all of this a little premature? Great the campus is safer but you don't even know what happened yet. The police have released nothing other than vague statements, calling the death suspicious but not giving the public any real information.


Mon, Dec 17, 2012 : 6:43 p.m.

I think the increased security it great -- should always be available...but I understand Bruce too; in this instance, it doesn't sound like anyone followed her home and did something untoward -- it was something that occurred inside the apartment (while speculation isn't allowed, I'd be thinking more of things that occur inside ones home not out on the street). Don't get me wrong -- I think the increase security is awesome!...Thanks volunteers!


Mon, Dec 17, 2012 : 4:34 p.m.

bruceae....Are you in law enforcement by chance ? Do you have any experience in crime investigation ? I do, so please explain why there is " no excuse " because I could tell you a few reasons why.Fact is, the real world is not a episode of CSI where crimes or potential crimes are solved in a hour


Mon, Dec 17, 2012 : 2:41 p.m.

There isn't anything wrong if it makes the whole area safer. My issue is the total lack of information from the police department is creating this fear on the campus. There is no excuse for taking another 2 weeks to determine what happened.


Mon, Dec 17, 2012 : 2:30 p.m.

I thumbs downed you so I'll reply.It's volunteers not the police doing this.If it makes students feel safer, what is the problem/big deal ?