Recent incidents at Bobcat Village and campus parking lots have left the University Police Department and administration labeled “reactive not proactive” regarding campus safety. By utilizing apps and Student Government, UPD hopes to better serve students—we just need to listen.
“Security in the beginning was provided by one night watchman,” states the UPD website. The UT-Austin Tower shooting served as the catalyst for a fully operational campus police department by 1968.
Russell Boyd and Connor Clegg both campaigned for student body president on the promise of improving campus safety. But from what? Sure, we have had incidents here and there. Assaults have remained prevalent issues on any campus. But how many incidents should really make us look over our shoulders at night?
Whether you read up on it or not, crime and crime prevention occurs every day at Texas State. The Daily Crime and Fire Log, although not publicized like the UT-Austin’s Campus Watch, is proof of the reportable incidents. UPD tries to remain transparent and visible on the happenings around campus.
Students have a right to know what is going around and simply directing students to the UPD website to see what went bump in the night or throughout the day illustrates the lack of true transparency between UPD and Texas State students.
Before and after the 2016 presidential elections, both political and racial tensions were at an all-time high around campus. Day after day, students flocked to the free speech zone to voice their opinions. However, after racist fliers circulated campus for the fourth time in three months, many students and parents began to question campus safety.
“Colton and I were elected by a majority of about 200 students, however, we are here for the whole,” said Connor Clegg, student body president
In my conversation with Clegg, he noted instead of attempting to fight the perception of fear on campus, we should take steps to foster a safer campus with added lighting in problem areas and strengthening relations between UPD and the student body.
The Clegg-Duncan administration also hopes to make reporting sexual assault easier and has been working with representatives of Not on My Campus to make it more than just a pledge and writing on your hand.
UPD briefs all incoming students at New Student Orientation on the Standard Response Protocol. Knowledge of the SRP is half the battle when dealing with an incident. The SRP breaks down what to do regarding the five biggest emergencies: lockdown, lockout, evacuation, a seek shelter situation and medical.
Currently, SRP is implemented locally throughout K-12 and at the university level in the event different agencies must respond to an incident. It is far from the only thing UPD does to brief residents on campus safety.
The UPD hosts outreach events to try to connect with students such as Coffee with a Cop and Chat with the Chief. The UPD and Texas State will host an active shooter training in the summer, including multiple departments from both local and state departments.
Clearly, there is not a lack of effort or training surrounding campus safety. The fault may lie in student interest.
UPD acknowledges when times change, so does the department. New advancements in technology, communication and a plethora of classes and programs offered by UPD allow its officers to maintain a working relationship with local, state and federal agencies to better serve students.
However, text updates, timely warnings and the Bobcat Guardian App are severely underutilized by students. Ignorance of the app’s existence and how to use it remains prevalent among many students. Consequently, Student Government has pushed legislation to make the Bobcat Guardian app part of new student orientation.
Students do not understand the importance and impact of the Bobcat Guardian app. Many simply disregard it because they may live off campus. However, the app boasts a tracking feature everyone can take advantage of. For instance, student organizations can use it to help keep track of members at large conferences and events.
New Student Government legislation has made keeping updated information on student contact information easier by introducing an extra step for class registration.
With so much going on in the world, campus safety almost feels like an afterthought. With added patrols, visibility and transparency, UPD and Student Government hopes to tackle this scaredy-cat mentality. Rest assured Bobcats, safety remains an important issue.
– Jakob R. Rodriguez is a journalism freshman