Things You Could (Have) Do(ne) Over the Break #2: Security Edition

Way back last year, I had a notion of a series of posts on things to do over break that was meant to help clear out my “Instapaper” account (which currently stands at 20+ pages of material) and backlog of stuff I wanted to post and address some other items that I hadn’t managed to get to over the course of last fall. Unfortunately I didn’t get any farther than the first one.

Still, as with most things, I prefer the long view, and so, though belated, you can expect a few more of these.

One of the things I wanted to get to last semester (admittedly, in order to do some moaning and complaining about it) was security. There were a couple of incidents in the fall that had me thinking (again) about the topic (as here along with the numerous incidents around and near Truman and Kennedy King, as well as elsewhere). Remember the Faculty Council survey from 2011 and the findings (more information on the results and the context here)? If not, this is what we found:

1. 90% of the respondents feel HWC is a safe environment, but roughly 3/4ths of those who held this view think it can be improved;

2. Roughly 75% of the respondents did not experience any immediate or potential threat to their safety this semester; that number dropped to 65% when asked to consider other situations that made them feel uncomfortable about their safety;

3. A clear majority of the faculty that responded do not know how to access emergency plans and crime information;

Well, that one, at least, we can do something about. If you missed it, over the break, Armen sent out some links for everyone to review; you might also consider posting a link to one or more of these in your Blackboard site.

Finally, one last thing you should know about (and please help spread the word)–Harold Washington College has something called the Supportive Intervention Team (SIT). Its origins lie in the Clery Law’s mandate that every college have a Threat Assessment group with training and processes for identifying and dealing with threats that strike the necessary balance between intra-institutional transparency and student privacy. In the worst of the college-campus tragedies of recent years–Virginia Tech, Northern Illinois, etc.–subsequent investigations found that earlier interventions might have made a difference. Over the past year and a half or so, George Bickford and Michael Russell have led the development of a set of process/protocols that have led to regular communication among security, administration (especially student services), faculty, human resources, and our Wellness staff. The process has been both educational and painstaking (I was a Faculty Council co-rep, along with Rosie and Matt Usner, last spring and summer) and extremely thoughtful.  You should DEFINITELY take a gander at the SIT page and maybe make a note of the link for reporting a “Person of Concern.” If you scroll down on the SIT page, you’ll find guidelines for reporting, as well as an explanation of the process once the report is made. There is also a link to a page with helpful reminders about engaging with distressed people (students, faculty, staff, strangers–whoever).

Originally I was going to belly ache about the absence of a sign in every room with the phone number for security large enough to be read from the back of the room (maybe we should make our own in the meantime?) and the fact that the last lockdown drill and associated key distribution (that I know of) was conducted almost two years ago and was only partial even then. I would guess that these items will get more attention in light of Newtown.  At least I hope they will. In the meantime, for yourself and your colleagues and your students, make sure you’re not the person who doesn’t know what to do if you need to know what to do.

One thought on “Things You Could (Have) Do(ne) Over the Break #2: Security Edition

  1. Sadly, safety and the well-being of its employees is not the number 1 priority of our campus.

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