Keeping our campus safe for all members of our community is a top priority at Oberlin. That said, I appreciate the report I recently received from the Presidential Working Group on Campus Security, which has been considering ways to improve safety and security here.
The working group was cochaired by Charles Peterson, associate professor and interim faculty in residence at Afrikan Heritage House, and Tita Reed, assistant to the president for community and government relations. Its members included Janet Fiskio, Adrian Bautista, Deron Essex, Alliyah Abu-Hazeem, Josh Koller, Ambre Dromgoole, and Amethyst Carey.
The working group was tasked with identifying best principles and practices for ensuring campus security in an inclusive and equitable fashion. The working group met with a wide range of campus constituencies in formulating its recommendations. Many thanks to the cochairs, the working group members, and everyone with whom they consulted.
We have already begun to implement some of the working group’s recommendations. For example, we are exploring models to increase engagement and building relationships between students and Safety and Security staff. We are also changing the look of Safety and Security’s uniforms as much as appropriate and possible over the next year as we move through seasonal purchasing.
We are also continuing to scale-up the professional development for Safety and Security staff. One example of this is the social justice diversity and inclusion training the staff received in 2014-15. The facilitator from that training program will return this year for a follow-up training. Additionally, we are working on scheduling training on implicit bias. This kind of ongoing professional development should serve as an example for other departments and offices.
Another initiative currently under way is a review and planning process focused on new student orientation so opportunities to create constructive interactions between students and Safety and Security staffers will be addressed as a part of this process.
Other recommendations range from clarifying the working relationship between Safety and Security and the Office of Residential Education (ResEd) to creating a campus advisory group that would partner with Safety and Security on policies, practices, and the acquisition of financial resources to support professional development, community building techniques, and fostering a consistent commitment to transparency and best practices. I look forward to making progress in these areas as well.
The report pointed out that everyone at Oberlin has a responsibility to help make the college and town safe and secure. Again, many thanks to the working group for their efforts to help make our campus and our community as safe as possible.
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