EAST LANSING, Mich. (WXYZ) — Michigan State University is taking steps to improve campus safety before the start of the new school year.
Many of the changes have come after the death of 18-year-old Brendan Santo, who was found in the Red Cedar River after disappearing last year around Halloween.
Since Santo's death, MSU has installed temporary fencing around the Red Cedar River with other security upgrades, all meant to make campus as safe as possible when students return to college.
"I've definitely noticed some of the fencing," Camryn Moyers, a junior at MSU said.
"I think they're taking it pretty seriously," Livvie Johnson, also a junior, added.
Santo's disappearance stunned the community. He was visiting from Grand Valley State University for Halloween weekend. His body was found in the Red Cedar River. We also learned cameras were not working in the area where his cell phone was last detected.
“We’re happy to see a step in the right direction," Moyers said.
“Do you feel there is a safe environment?" I asked senior Antonio Zamora.
"I definitely feel there is a safe environment like you mentioned with the lighting," he said.
Throughout campus, MSU Public Safety Spokesperson Dana Whyte said improvements to lighting have been made, along with upgrades to surveillance cameras. As to who will be monitoring cameras for emergencies, Whyte said, “It’s department specific, but we are working to get all of those cameras under us. That’s something we’ll do as well.”
The fencing along Michigan Ave. near Harrison is also part of a strategy developed after meeting with a student advisory committee.
MSU police have also launched a SafeMSU App in the Apple Store and Google Play store for students and staff to be able to report issues on campus, and keep track of one another when walking alone.
“Anyone visiting campus can download it," Whyte said. “They can report a tip to police. Get a safe ride or a ride from CATA, a lot of different safety resources right in one spot.”
For Zamora, it's about maintaining a level of comfort and confidence in a place shared by 40,000 students, as safety remains top priority.
“Most of the campus is well lit up. This campus is huge. To me that’s impressive," Zamora said.
We reached out to the Santo family for comment, but they have declined an interview at this time. MSU said despite supply chain delays, they plan to install permanent fencing soon.