With the arrival of fall there is a dip in temperature, a change of foliage colors, and students are settling into their lives in college. Fall also brings enthusiasm about college football, rush week and all the social activities that add to campus life.
During this exciting time, safety shouldn’t take a backseat to fun, and fortunately these four campuses have great safety programs so that even when students aren’t thinking about safety, their schools are still focused on keeping them safe.
1. Grand Valley State University
At Grand Valley State University in Allendale, MI, there is a collaborative approach to campus safety. The Grand Valley State University Police Department, which is fully commissioned by the state of Michigan, has a community police division that works closely with the university’s housing and residence life office to develop programs based on the needs of students. This collaboration builds community trust and results in trust in the police department. As part of this initiative, the police department allows any registered GVSU student to ride along to learn more about the role the police play in the campus community as well as to allow the students to observe first-hand how police keep peace.
The university police also offer a Safe Walk program seven days a week from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. which offers campus escorts to anyone who wants to be accompanied through campus. The Walk Safe program is staffed by building security students employed through the police department.
Grand Valley State University also relies on educating the student body about safety measures to ensure the campus remains a safe place to live, learn, and work. The police department offers awareness programs about alcohol, crime prevention, safe travels and sexual assault. To deal with sexual assault on campus, the police department facilitates a Rape Awareness Defense (R.A.D.) class to any female student, faculty or staff member. R.A.D., taught by nationally certified instructors, arms women with the knowledge about how to thwart a sexual assault.
2. University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
At the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, they think safety is best achieved when everyone is engaged. To that end, the university’s state certified police department has partnered with the community to form Community Oriented Policing (COP). COP is comprised of on and off campus community members, students, and staff who offer input to the police on who best to keep the campus and surrounding community neighborhoods safe. The UW-La Cross Police Department believes that that building a strong relationship between the police and those they serve makes them a proactive department.
To intervene and prevent a potentially unsafe or criminal behavior, the university has enacted a Campus Assessment Response and Evaluation (CARE) Team to intervene when there is a report of suspicious behavior within the campus community. Once alerted to a potentially dangerous situation, the CARE Team reviews all the facts and enlists the help of the agencies best equipped to handle the situation.
The university police department, along with several other campus departments developed a crisis plan that explains the procedures for dealing with major incidents that could affect the campus community. If there is a need to relay safety and response information to members of the campus community, that information is sent via the university’s City Watch which sends messages via text or call. The university also sends emergency alter notifications through Twitter.
3. Nova Southeastern University
At Nova Southeastern University in Davie, FL, the unarmed public safety department personnel work in conjunction with the Town of Davie Police Department to keep the campus secure and safe. The Town of Davie Police Department’s contracted community oriented police officers, as well as off duty officers assist the university’s public safety officers. More than half of the university’s public safety department have been or are currently NSU students which fosters a sense of understanding and loyalty between the department and students.
As part of the university’s commitment to a safe campus environment, it utilizes an Emergency Notification System (ENS) that sends important information through, text messages, telephone calls, indoor and outdoor public address systems, and through the university’s website. The university also has numerous blue light telephones located throughout campus to allow students immediate access to police services.
To add to the campus community’s sense of safety, the public safety department offers walking escorts on the university’s property 24-hours a day. In addition, the public safety department will assist students, staff, and faculty who are locked out of their cars, who need help restarting a dead battery or with adding air to flat tires.
4. Marshall University
Marshall University takes the safety of their students, staff and faculty seriously and offers a wide range of services and information to keep everyone safe. The Marshall University Police Department officers are certified by the state of West Virginia and have the same responsibilities and authority as other law enforcement officials in the state. In 1993, the department implemented a police bike patrol which allows them to successfully navigate large crowds, access parts of campus that they wouldn’t be able to access in a police cruiser, and promote good working relationships between the department and the community.
To ensure a safe campus, the department has about 35 blue light phones on campus, offers group seminars on crime prevention topics ranging from elevator safety, book theft, fire prevention, and residence hall safety. In addition, the university police department offers campus escorts to anyone who needs to walk through campus after dark and offers assistance in online property registration and engraving of belongings as theft deterrent.
Even on the safest campuses aren’t impervious to acts of violence, accidents or severe weather so don’t take safety for granted. Always be aware of your surrounds, be vigilant and proactive in securing your belongings and connect the proper authorities if you witness a crime or what you believe could be a dangerous situation.
Written by Nicole Tallman
Nicole is the mom to two precocious girls and is PTA President. She is passionate about the environment and leaving the Earth better than she found it. Learn more