SA strives to enhance safety on university grounds

Students can download the Omnilert app on their mobile phones to send alerts to Campus Safety and the police. (Illustration by Preston Waters)
Students can download the Omnilert app on their mobile phones to send alerts to Campus Safety and the police. (Illustration by Preston Waters)

Written by: Celeste Lee

Student Association (SA) has been working to improve safety on campus this semester through a special committee created by Senate to address the issue.

According to Kelsie Alonso, sophomore management major and a representative on the committee, it exists to ensure student safety by increasing awareness of the resources Southern already has on campus and recognizing the needs and voices of the students.

“We noticed a lack and need for more student safety,” Alonso said. “Our goal is to increase and promote safety on campus.”

According to SA President Jared Chandler, he and the committee might be working on adding new heads to lights in campus parking lots to increase their brightness. In addition, Chandler said he, SA Vice President Dain Ochoa, Associate Vice President for Financial Administration Marty Hamilton and Director of Building Systems Dennis Clifford surveyed campus on a golf cart last week to identify dark areas.

“A complaint that we got was that there are areas on campus that are really dark. … So we went around, and we marked those locations where the lights are out so we can make it a brighter and safer place,” Chandler said. “It will help students feel a little bit safer.”

Another one of SA’s safety goals is to raise awareness of Title IX. There will be a convocation on Nov. 16 featuring a panel of Title IX and Campus Safety representatives to answer anonymous questions. 

According to Chandler, methods of increasing safety on campus also will be discussed during the event. 

“We want our students to be as informed as possible on what they can do to prevent situations from happening, or, if something happened to them, what are the next steps they can do,” Chandler said.

One safety method the safety committee plans to present at the convocation is the Omnilert mobile app.

“[It is] a safety app, so you’ll get messages from Campus Safety,” Alonso said. “You can dial Campus Safety, you can dial 911 or you can send in a silent alert.”

Chandler has retracted his plan to implement emergency towers on campus, a part of his campaign platform last school year. At the beginning of this semester, Chandler researched the possibility of adding the towers and talked to University President Ken Shaw and Campus Safety. 

“Shaw’s sentiment was that it wouldn’t be effective,” he said. “ … Campus Safety’s response to me was more or less that they didn’t see that this would be that great of a benefit to the campus or that it wouldn’t have a big impact safety-wise.” 

According to Chandler, emergency call towers and the Omnilert app each have pros and cons. However, he said Southern already uses the app, which can track the location of where an incident occurs, and increasing awareness of the app will be more beneficial for students than building towers.

“The emergency call tower is only in one location while your phone is always with you,” Chandler explained. 

In addition to reminding students of the importance of the Omnilert app, Alonso also wants to remind students of the self-defense courses available on campus. 

Campus Safety offers both female-only and male-only aggression defense classes.

“Not enough people know about it, and not enough people are taking it,” Alonso said.

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