UPDATE: Rendered moot in the same day! I am both impressed and grateful for our administration’s responsiveness, even as I feel somewhat guilty for putting them on blast (without warning). I wrote this on a day I was frustrated and then scheduled it and then pulled it (or so I thought), thinking that I should send some notice upstairs first. I guess I my effort to de-schedule it was inept, though, and I was somewhat surprised to find it posted today. I’m glad the manual is under review, but I am sorry that I didn’t give our hard-working administrators a chance to do something about it  before turning it into a public spectacle. That was my bad. Thanks to Don and company for the fast response.


Is anyone else troubled by the fact that there are no instructions for what to do in the case of a lock-down in our Emergency  Manual and that somewhere around half of the people identified as having some sort of responsibility are no longer employed at the college and that the Emergency Manuals might be some of the least user friendly documents produced by the college (at least until the new “Pathways” are released), which is saying something?

(Poor Dean Blair–his fellow escalator monitors are Cecilia Lopez, Anna Blum, and John Metoyer (p. 33). Not only that, but apparently John Wozniak is our Emergency Director!)

I know, I know…the names aren’t really that important (and, truthfully, I don’t really care about that; I’m just playing). During the last fire drill, there were plenty of monitors and help for clearing out the building; everything seemed to be working smoothly and well, for evacuations anyway. I don’t know how the “Safe Haven” card things are supposed to work for anything other than drills. I taped mine up near my door on the Tuesday before the drill and it was gone by Thursday. A few people have them up in their office windows, probably having interpreted their meaning according to the broader social and K-12 usage of the term. I just don’t see how it would all work. Maybe I’m dense.

I continue to think that the biggest dangers and threats any of us might face, as identified in a Faculty Council survey a couple of years ago, continue to exist, largely unaddressed, but I also know that a certain amount of risk is inevitable and that our risk for something awful happening is (knock on wood) low. Still, I have printed out and laminated this sign for posting in the classes that I’m teaching in. I won’t be able to lock my door from the inside on Thursday for this drill, but at least with the new biometrics system, they’ll have a way of identifying me if something goes really wrong some day.

So we’ve got that going for us. Which is nice.

Student Security Petition

Two weeks One week from today at 1:30pm at Belmont and Western is the court date for the man who was arrested on campus and charged with sexual assault for his actions in the second floor women’s rest room.

Two things you should know:

1) Some of our students are planning a show of support for the victim, meeting in the lobby of HWC at 11:30 on Tuesday, November 1st before heading over to the courtroom, and I believe all are invited and welcome; and

2) Some of our students have put together a petition (which you can print out by clicking HERE) in light of what occurred and requested that I share it with other faculty so that anyone interested may share it with their students.

Should you decide to inform students of it (I did) and should any students sign it, you may drop it off in my mailbox on the 10th floor (in the Humanities office in room 1014, or you can shove it under my office door (1036), if I’m not there) and I’ll make sure that the organizing students receive the signed petitions.

In case you missed the story in the school paper, the petition gives the following as background:

On September 8, 2011, at approximately 7:20pm at Harold Washington College on the second floor, a man who was unaffiliated with HWC entered the women’s bathroom and attempted to sexually assault a female student.  The man attempted to climb under the occupied stall door at which timethe woman began screaming. The man then stood between the woman and the exit, naked from the waist down.  The woman screamed until the man exited the bathroom; the man was apprehended ten minutes later in the men’s bathroom, also on the second floor.

The petition’s signatories are identified as “concerned students who urge our leaders to act now to improve security protocols in our college,” collectively making four requests toward that end:

1. Email blasts are to be sent to all students detailing any and all criminal incidents that occur within or around the HWC campus. 

2. The “Security Policies and Crime Statistics Report” link on the HWC website will be updated as crimes occur, without an update lapse of more than a month. 

3. A full disclosure of security team functions, duties, obligations, and responsibilities is to be provided to students at HWC, either accessible via the HWC website or in conjunction with student safety seminars or events. 

4. Student safety seminars or events are to be performed each and every semester to ensure that all students are aware of potential safety hazards as well as the best practices for avoiding, combating, and reporting crimes that may occur on campus.

They seem to me to be reasonable requests, and I love the thoughtful and active approach that our students are taking to advocate for themselves and each other.

With the obvious exception of the impetus for it all, it seems to me to be good stuff all around.

UPDATE: Sorry about the screw-up. If you want more info (and belong to Facebook), you can find it HERE.

Think, Know, Prove–Safety and Security

Think, Know, Prove is a regular Saturday feature, where a topic with both mystery and importance is posted for community discussion. The title is a shortened version of the Investigative Mantra: What do we think, what do we know, what can we prove? and everything from wild speculation to resource referencing fact is welcome here.

The biggest non-event of the week (maybe the semester) was easily Thursday’s “Stay In Place” Drill. There’s been some discussion of it already in Thursday’s posts, including UsuallyConfused’s suggestion that s/he feels less safe now after doing the drill instead of safer.

Over the last few years the college has had a few discussions related to safety and security issues. There was Judi Nitsch’s college wide email in FA08 about an incident in her class and a few other experiences. She wrote:

I apologize for the mass email but believe the information to be pressing for all faculty at Harold Washington College. I would like to report to the community a disturbing incident that occurred Tuesday evening, after my 5:30 class had begun. I reported this incident and am equally disturbed by the response from the institution. Such information, I submit, should be publicly disseminated, as it is at most campuses through a system of “campus alerts.” Without such a system in place, we invite dangerous situations to occur on our campus; we endanger our students and our own lives…

I am not asking for a fortress-like campus, but I submit that the surrounding community views our security as lax. In the future, I will call 911 for assistance, as I take the safety of myself and my students very seriously. I also submit that, as a community, we need a consistent, recorded practice and procedure for handling such emergency situations.

Then there was the all college meeting in the wake of the shootings at one campus or another, announcing the formation of the Pandemic/Security Committee or something like that and discussion mostly focused on some ceiling projectors that had been brazenly stolen over the summer (I have to admit to a tremendous amount of fuzziness on the history of this one–it could be that I’m mixing together different meetings in my memory. I’m sure I was late to it/them, and I know that, going in, I was dubious about the need/efficacy of what would come out of it.).

I also know, that when I started, anything that wasn’t bolted down, walked away. (I remember being told that I shouldn’t leave my office door open when I went to my mailbox because if I did, when I returned my course books (backpack/coat/lunch/pencils) would be gone. In FA08 there seemed to be a resurgence in object disappearances, but it’s died back down now in my estimation). I still try to avoid providing unnecessary temptations to people, but I am generally not concerned about theft. I’ve had semesters where it seemed like there were a few more imbalanced, as in emotionally unstable, people than others, and I’ve had a few interactions with people here and there that left me feeling vaguely unsettled (though never threatened). I’ve also heard, at departmental meetings mostly, about a few incidents where colleagues felt downright endangered–usually much more so after the fact.

If and when I get around to doing the things that I’m supposed to be doing, Faculty Council will have a survey on campus security for faculty to take. In the meantime, I’d like to start the discussion here (or maybe continue the discussion from Thursday’s threads, with the opportunity to broaden it). Mr. Rozelle told Faculty Council that security’s prime directive is “to prevent and remove disruptions from the educational environments.” When we asked him about doing a survey of the faculty, he predicted that the faculty estimation of the security staff and the security of the college would be “bad.”  That surprised me, and I wondered when I heard it, what I didn’t know about.

And so I ask you: does the security staff follow its directive in your experience? Is your estimation of the safety and security of the college that it is “bad”? Do you feel safe on campus? Are you?

What do you think? What do you know? What can you prove?

(h/t to UsuallyConfused for the topic)