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What the U is Doing About Safety

After a particularly rough year in terms of campus safety, the University of Utah has taken the recommendations of the Presidential Task Force, as well as the concerns of the general student populace and has begun to roll out improvements in campus safety. There are a solid number of promises they’ve made, and in order to hold the administration up to their claims, I’ve compiled a list of all they’ve announced so far, particularly those suggestions that directly affect student life. Here is a link to all of the Presidential Task Force Recommendations – the following is an overview of the most relevant implementations to everyday student safety.

 

Safety Training

Several new approaches to online training modules were suggested. These included expanding the training system for faculty and staff, purchasing additional training modules for students, creating an online version of the Center for Student Wellness’s Bystander Intervention Training, and developing a new active shooter training module.

 

Facilities

Student parking will now be available near the Marriott Library, Eccles Health Sciences Library and the Student Union after 3 p.m. I assume this means that parking will be free after 3 p.m. in these areas, however, it is unclear in the document. Evening classes will be centralized, with a campus security officer assigned to each quadrant, and transportation and courtesy escorts coordinated between these locations, the Marriott Library, and the Rice-Eccles Stadium parking lot.

 

The centralized locations (otherwise referred to as ‘neighborhoods’) are as follows:

1) Business Loop Neighborhood (SAEC, GARFF, SFEBB, CRCC, ART, ARCH, BU C)

2) Gardner Commons Neighborhood (GC, CTIHB, LNCO, UNION)

3) Health Sciences Neighborhood (HSEB)

4) Marriott Library Neighborhood (Marriott Library, SW, BEHS, FMAB)

5) University Street Neighborhood (DGH, Building 72, Building 73, ASB, HEB, ST, LS, CSC)

 

Technology/Communication

The University has begun using an app called TapRide to process courtesy escort requests. Much like Uber/Lyft, you can request a ride using this app, input your pickup and dropoff addresses, and the app will alert you how far your ride is, and who will be picking you up. The recommendations also call for the expansion of mass communication capabilities, the consolidation of the 4 different radio communication systems into one unified platform, and the funding of new security systems for older housing units.

 

Policy

The Task Force called for the development of university policy regarding mandatory safety training for students, faculty, and staff, as well as the strengthening of communication between the Department of Public Safety and local law enforcement agencies. They also recommended that the University end the ability of campus members to opt-out of alert notifications.

 

President of the University, Ruth V. Watkins, has accepted all of the proposals from the task force in addition to 30 other improvements that were made after an independent team reviewed the way the University handled Lauren McCluskey’s case. Here is a link to the full list of recommendations, as well as the dates those recommendation’s action items were implemented or if they are still ongoing. The majority of these recommendations are policy or staff-based.

 

I am hopeful that these recommendations will be implemented sooner rather than later, and the continued effort of the University to improve upon their past mistakes leaves me optimistic. However, the only way to ensure that these policies become a reality is to stay informed and aware of them. As we approach the anniversary of the deaths of Lauren McCluskey and ChenWei Guo, as well as multiple on-campus assaults, it is vital that we as students keep the University accountable, and stand together for our peers who have been victimized in the past.

Image Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

Ailish Harris is a Stage Management and Performing Arts Design transfer student at the University of Utah. She's originally from Salt Lake City, UT, but was lucky enough to attend Emerson College in Boston, MA for her first 3 semesters of college. She has written for both Her Campus Emerson and Her Campus Utah, and is the current Editor in Chief for Her Campus Utah! She is a student leader in many capacities, working as the Secretary for Stage Managers at the U and as the Historian for the Department of Theatre's Student Advisory Committee. She loves Halloween, cooking, theatre, documentaries, organization, fashion, her pet hedgehog Chester, true crime, and Her Campus!
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