The College Council met with representatives from the University to discuss student safety issues regarding lighting on campus, emergency phones, and communication between the University Police force and students. The meeting, which was held last Wednesday night, focused on revamping Common Sense, the safety pamphlet given to incoming students in the fall.
Council members felt that the newsletter should be handed out, but that supplementing the paper would be the most effective way of preventing crime and increasing student awareness of important telephone numbers, contact persons at the University, and locations of emergency phones. Council members also pointed out that many students do not know where to turn for safety information.
Rudolph Nimocks, executive director of the University police department, and Sheila Yarbrough, assistant dean of student services, attended the question-and-answer style meeting. Both said that they think using some of the ideas the Council members gave them will help.
"This is an organ that tries to meet the needs of students and faculty," Yarbrough said. Possible supplement ideas included quarterly emails containing important safety information to be sent to all University students, increasing communication between resident advisors and University Police, and info-boards around campus for security tips and alerts. Students felt that the Common Sense newsletter was too big, containing too much information, especially for incoming students.
"It's pretty difficult to tailor-make information to fit everyone." Nimocks said.
Another main concern was retrofitting emergency phones. Nimocks explained that it is too expensive to replace all the old student phones with more up-to-date versions, but that the old phones have been recently re-painted. He also made clear that there are numerous safety phones around Hyde Park but that many students are unaware of their existence. The locations of the emergency phones along with other important safety information can be found online at www.uchicago.edu/commonsense.
Addressing concerns that the campus is not well lit at night, Nimocks stated that twice a year members of the University police force walk through campus checking to make sure all areas are well lit, not just by campus lights, but by city street lamps as well. He made clear that student concerns are being taken into consideration.
Dean Armstrong, a representative from the Quality Lighting Coalition, a collective of students, faculty, and staff, commented that the University could have a more attractive, safer campus by implementing modern lighting standards. "We feel that the university has forgone these standards," Armstrong said.