New Policy?

Anybody have any idea what this email (sent on Monday) is about?



I know we’re all guessing that it has something to do with the incident at Olive Harvey (anyone know anything more about that, by the way?), but this seems like EXACTLY the kind of policy that some of us were concerned about being put in place when those stupid gates went up in the first place…a policy that will keep students out of their classes while not solving any problem–actual or potential. At least none that I can think of. Can anyone enlighten me?

And then what is the meaning of the one we got last night?



Is that a revision, limiting this policy to apply only to personnel? Or is it a clarification that the policy extends ALSO to personnel?

What the hell?

UPDATE: From your email:

In response to questions raised on the Harold Lounge, Harold Washington College’s Safety and Security team wanted to share information behind the change in procedure…This new policy is in direct response to feedback received from students who have reported unauthorized people entering the College. Discussions with students highlighted their concern with the policy for guests entering the building. This update is to ensure we know who is in the building and when they leave, helping to create a safe and secure campus.
I wish I could say that this kind offer clarified things for me, but it seems to raise more questions–who talked to these students? How many were there? Was SGA involved? Shouldn’t they be? How about faculty council? The Office of Instruction? And what sense is there that these students (and their concerns) are representative of the students (and admins, faculty, staff, and visitors) affected by this policy? Clearly they were taken to be, but on what basis and is it true?
And, of course, there is the remaining question of whether this new policy will really allow security to know who is in the building and when they leave (and, if so, whether that will do anything to create “a safe and secure campus”). The assumptions driving both of these claims are questionable, at least, I would say. Unsurprising, though.

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.

Faculty Council Corner: Safety/Security Feedback Reminder

Just a reminder that the Faculty Council and Chairs are having a meeting on TODAY (Thursday afternoon) with the President and Vice Chancellor of Safety and Security and other luminaries to discuss the proposed changes to the college lobby and state of security at the college. The security survey is now closed, and the results are in.

Some of the findings:

~66% of the faculty responding said that the environment at HWC was pretty safe, but could be better; 24% said HWC is a very safe environment;

~68% (59 out of 87) of  faculty did not know know the number for calling security. 56 left it blank and three had the wrong number;

~Hallways and classrooms were identified as the locations of most incidents of endangering or threatening incidents;

There’s much more, and I was planning to post it here, but I have a sneaking suspicion that certain someones would rather that didn’t happen, so I’m going to seek the green light first. If I don’t get it, we’ll try an all faculty email distribution instead. If I do get it, we’ll do both (here and email).

Most importantly for the moment, though, is your commentary on the proposed Swipe entry system. Any feedback you have on the topics can be added to the post  that was up all last week or sent by email to your Chair or a Faculty Council Rep or Don.

(Additional Update: Immediately following this afternoon’s meeting will be the Unofficial Holiday Faculty gathering and festivus (at the Emerald Lounge around the corner from HWC) organized by Faculty Council member and Social Chair, Jenny Armendarez. Be there or be talked about!)

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.

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)