Safety on the River Campus has come under the spotlight due to recent incidents, and UR Security as well as administration is in the process of implementing new changes for the River Campus.
Improvements will include three new areas with security cameras, installed around the periphery of campus, and increased patrol during the night from UR Security. New administrative additions include the formation of two committees spun off of the Judicial Policies and Procedures Committee.
The new cameras have been installed at Wilson Boulevard by the pedestrian bridge, the intersection of Wilson Boulevard and Faculty Road, and a third by the periphery near the Goergen Athletic Center.
Director of UR Security Walter Mauldin notes that the cameras are merely supplemental to the current measures employed by security. “[The cameras] are not a substitute for an officer — but it’s becoming a more prevalent tool,” he said.
These cameras are in addition to the approximately 80 already installed in various areas of the campus. They are not inexpensive, however, and Mauldin noted the new cameras are a necessary and worthy addition.
“It’s a fairly substantial investment on our part,” he said.Dean of Students Jody Asbury agrees these new measures will be helpful, but does not see safety on campus as compromised at this point, relating to the isolated incidents earlier in the semester.
“I can’t say I see a rise in crime on campus,” she said. “[The incidents] were so unusual that it’s frightening and random. It’s surprising on this campus. But I don’t see [the River Campus] as an unsafe campus. We just have to be smarter now.”
Provost Charles Phelps agreed with these sentiments, and feels one group of isolated events triggered these concerns. “I see no reason to think that we have a trend of increasing problems,” he said. “I have seen this sort of thing happen in a number of other years, and it’s most often a single, isolated individual — or a handful, sometimes connected — who create a lot of problems.”
UR’s relations with the Rochester Police Department remain strong as well, and anything UR Security feels is a threat beyond their control, can be referred to RPD if necessary.
“[RPD] is called in at instances when security thinks it is warranted,” Asbury said.
Security has added new foot patrol in the early hours of the morning, and the escort service is still available to students.
Asbury encouraged students to take advantage of what security has to offer.
“I use [the escort service] if I’m working late at night,” she said. “If you anticipate your departure time, and depart a little ahead of time, it’s useful. Students should be encouraged to use it.”
Reduced cab fares from off campus areas are also offered to ensure student safety, and can be purchased in the I.D. Office, in the Residential Life office, or in the vending machine on the third floor of Wilson Commons.
Concerns also arose about the footbridge area, as well as the opening of Wilson Boulevard as potentially prone areas, and the cause of the recent criminal incidents.
However, Asbury noted neither of these contribute to the problem.
“It is too easy to blame things on the bridge,” she said.
“The reality is, in the major [incidents], people came on campus in cars.”In regards to the Wilson Boulevard area, Asbury commented on its reopening as making the area more, not less safe for community members.
“It is not dead, dark space now, there is more light, which makes it safer,” she said. “There are a lot of myths floating around, but security experts will tell you [adding light] is one thing you do to reduce crime.”
In addition, measures are being taken from the internal standpoint, with two new committees formed from the umbrella Judicial Policies and Procedures Committee.A subcommittee of this, run in part by Associate Dean of Students in charge of discipline Matthew Burns, is involved in re-examining university policy, including codes of conduct.
“The discipline system this year seems to be going quite well,” he said. “It’s definitely moving along more quickly, which was the goal.”The other committee, named simply the Security Committee, is looking at security policy and related issues, and hopes to maintain communications between various factions of UR.
The committee entails a wide variety of campus community members. Administrators include Dean of The College William Green, Asbury, Director of UR Security Walter Mauldin, Dean of Sophomores Priscilla Auchincloss, and Director of Greek Affairs Monica Miranda, among others.
Students are also involved in the committee proceedings, with members of student government, Greek organizations and RAs as members.
“Students have raised a set of questions about security policies, and security has responded to the questions in detail,” Dean of Sophomores Priscilla Auchincloss said. “The committee is looking into all those questions, with students and members of the security division at the table, along with several administrators and staff.”
The committee hopes to achieve a goal of communication specifically between students, security and administrators, in an attempt to keep the lines of dialogue open for the betterment of the campus.
“Some of the best things that could come out of this committee are better relations between security and students, greater clarity in the minds of students about security’s policies and procedures, and better mutual understanding between security and students of their respective responsibilities and expectations,” Auchincloss said.
“Very simply put, safety — and a sense of safety — is important in order for students to study and learn, and it is important in order for students to understand how the security division works to make the campus safe.”
Safety has always been, and continues to be a concern for the campus, and Phelps expressed this continuing effort.
“Safety and security are always matters of importance in colleges and universities, not just here,” he said.
Phelps believes the level of concern is consistent. “In response to the question, ‘is safety on campus a concern’ then the answer is ‘of course’– we are always paying attention to these issues.”
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