Safety and Security: Feedback Needed!

As mentioned in Ivan’s posting of Michal’s notes from the Chair’s meeting (h/t’s to both of you for those), there is some potential for significant changes to the HWC Lobby, and the time to get your voice heard is right NOW.

President Don Laackman asked for time with your HW Faculty Council last Tuesday (11/15) to discuss some developments related to campus safety and security, at which he requested faculty feedback and assistance. We, in turn, are asking all faculty, full time and adjuncts, to respond to the Security Climate and Procedures Survey. Details on how to access the survey are at the end of this post.

First, a few of the facts:

1. Harold Washington College is unique among the seven city colleges in that it has an open lobby plan in which people can come and go freely without interacting with security personnel;

2. This set-up is unusual, too, among downtown buildings, most of which have more restrictive ingress control;

3. At the November meeting, the CCC board passed a resolution that approved up to $505,032 for a “Lobby Security Access System with Swipe Card for Staff and Students”  ( );

4. That resolution was passed, according to Vice Chancellor de Lopez (through Don) so that planning could begin, not as a fait accompli (“I will make the decision,” Don said in our meeting);

5. Don stated that his guiding principle for this initiative is to deter “low effort crimes/offenders” while preserving, as much as possible, the openness of our current lobby. He also stated that he comes into these discussions with a bias toward doing something on account of a number of recent incidents. He further stated that he was open to persuasion by compelling arguments, and so seeking input;

6. The process from decision to finalization would take approximately nine months, and so, to have this ready for fall (and to minimize mid-semester disruption), a decision will need to be made by early-mid January, which is Don’s desired timeline;

7. On the Tuesday of our meeting, Don had a preliminary meeting with the District’s Architect, Vice Chancellor de Lopez, Rich Wren, Security Officer Bearden (David Rozell was at court), Chiaka Patterson (DO), and a few vendors to look at the lobby and talk about possible approaches and layouts. Don showed us a preliminary sketch—emphasizing that it was just that—of a layout that would feature eight sliding glass panels, with some sort of swiping mechanism that would allow them to open. The gates would all be ADA compliant and would not restrict building egress in the case of an emergency (relative to the front doors). The Security desk would remain where it is, so visitors and/or people without their IDs would simply go over to the Security desk to get help. There were, apparently, other options, too, but this was the most initially attractive option (see #6);

8. In the course of the discussion, FC raised a number of questions and initial comments/considerations, including: asking how many criminal incidents occur on average and in recent semesters, and of what sort (as in, what would be prevented by this new architecture?); a statement about the hospitality and message conveyed by the lobby regarding our trust and expectations of students, employees, and visitors (and its distinction from the message/architecture that many of them have encountered/received from their previous institutions of learning (i.e. many CPS schools feature metal detectors and strong security at the door and inside). There was concern expressed about unintended consequences, unnecessary cost/expenditure, student perceptions of the learning environment (as documented in CCSSE and elsewhere), and a question about the relationship of this new plan to the requirement for 1600 Professionals to sign in at the security desk;

9. Don also stated that he sees a role for the Space Committee in managing this initiative, and that one of his goals for the building is to provide more open services (labs, equipment, collaborative study areas, etc.) for students, but that goal stands in tension with the openness of the building. The more open the building, the less open the spaces within the building can be and the inverse is also, potentially, true;

So, Don and HW Faculty Council are seeking feedback and information on everything from reasons to leave things alone, reasons to make a change like the one sketched out above, reasons to make changes other than the one sketched out, and reasons to make changes in addition to the one above.

Toward this end, we are asking all HW Faculty (Adjuncts, too!) to take the Security Climate and Procedures Survey (Click HERE ) by DECEMBER 2nd and invite EVERYONE to provide us with your feedback, ideas, and concerns related to any or all of the above.

You may provide that feedback on the Lounge, by email, or by note, conversation, or the means of your choosing to any of HW’s Faculty Council representatives, your Chair or supervisor, or Don himself. We look forward to hearing from you.