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College sophomore Jessica Fuccello and College junior Natalie Capuano used the locks on the bedroom doors in their off-campus house for the first time this week.

They say the change in their behavior stems from an increased awareness of security issues following last Monday's sexual assault of a student in the bedroom of her off-campus apartment on the 4000 block of Spruce Street.

Since the sexual assault, University officials say they have been working with area landlords to ensure the security of off-campus housing.

The emphasis on housing safety is the silver lining in the situation, said Catherine Bath, vice president for Security on Campus, an organization dedicated to improving safety on college campuses nationwide.

"When you're living off-campus in Philadelphia or anywhere, you really want to secure your room or apartment," Bath said.

Locking doors is a key safety measure, Bath said, and landlords in University City allow residents to have locks on most bedroom doors.

For instance, University City Housing, which manages more than 1,000 area properties, will install a lock on any bedroom free of charge as long as it does not interfere with fire-escape access, manager Josh Newman said.

Some University City Housing residences, Newman added, also come equipped with surveillance cameras and a closed-circuit security system.

Penn officials have been cooperating with University City landlords to make sure that all off-campus housing options are safe and secure for students.

Local real-estate realtor Campus Apartments checked entryways on those properties owned by the University and managed by the company last week to make sure their locks were secure, Executive Vice President Craig Carnaroli said.

Carnaroli also said Division of Public Safety officials had met with University City Landlords, a group of area realtors, a few weeks ago to discuss security concerns. DPS asked them to look at locks, lighting and fire-safety issues on their properties.

Still, many students say the sexual assault has affected their daily routine.

College junior Eunsae Park, who lives in an off-campus apartment at 34th and Chestnut streets, used to spend many nights working at the architecture studio on campus until 3 a.m. but has grown cautious since last week's assault.

"Now that people are getting raped, I don't feel safe going to the studio even at midnight," Park said.

Not all students are lucky enough to live in off-campus residences that are safe, Vice President for Public Safety Maureen Rush said.

"I think there are different levels of landlords definitely in this area," Rush said. "Some are very cognizant of safety issues and do a good job with security; others do not."

Rush urged students thinking about living off campus to contact the Office of Off-Campus Living to guide them through the process.

In addition to offering a preferred list of landlords, the office provides advice on what students should look for in a potential off-campus residence.

The most important of these are the route to and from campus, window and door security, whether the locks are changed between tenancies, lock strength and external lighting, Business Services spokeswoman Barbara Lea-Kruger said.

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