Open forum addresses campus safety concerns

Shelby DeHaven, ‘Doah Managing Editor
November 20, 2013

On Nov. 13, Shenandoah University’s Student Government Association held an open forum to address some of the concerns that students have on campus. The panel featured the Director of Residence Life Sue O’Driscoll, the Director of Physical Plant Barry Schnoor, the Director of Public Safety Robin Ebersole and the Assistant Director of Public Safety Michael Wasko. The forum was moderated by Karen Schultz.

There were several prepared questions that the panel was given in advance and then there was more questions and discussion based on the panel’s answers. The main focus of the hour long forum was safety and parking while as touching on the cleanliness of the resident halls.

The first question was asking about the amount of lighting available on campus after dark. As many know, physical plant worked on adding new street lamps in the area of University Drive to make it more visible during the evening hours; however, the area between the Brandt Student Center and Henkel Hall is still extreme dark. Schnoor pointed out during the discussion that contrary to popular belief there are six street lights in that area rather than the two that everyone believes. The fact remains that the area is too dark and Schnoor says that his department has plans in install more in the future but there is no plan scheduled for when this will happen.

Another safety concern was with some of the residents of Winchester causing disturbances on campus. Since S.U. is an open campus, we cannot stop the community from coming on campus but if they are causing issues, contact the department of public safety. Public safety officers can confront these people and if it keeps occurring they can issue a trespassing notice against them. This means that if the person comes on to campus again, DPS can call the Winchester police department. O’Driscoll stresses the importance for campus residences to remain vigilant and not let anyone else into the dorms unless they know them. If the person looks out of place, call DPS and they can come check.

One of the most important topics they covered during the forum is the improvement for informing staff and students on the emergency protocols. This has been one of the areas in which the department of public safety is working hard to improve this year. This year, DPS has installed In Case of Emergency or ICE charts in all of the residence halls and buildings on campus. These charts give the reader an idea of how to proceed in every emergency situation. The goal of DPS is to eventually get one of these ICE flyers in every room on campus. The resident directors of each building also have a flipbook of the ICE information. There is also the complete Shenandoah University emergency plan at http://www.su.edu/eop. DPS is also making a video series called Safer in 60 seconds. These videos can be found on the Shenandoah University Student Life Facebook page and on S.U.’s youtube channel.

The biggest concern on campus lately has been the parking or lack of it. Schnoor countered with the response that there plenty of spots available on campus but not everyone can park at their front door. He rattled off the different parking on campus including the lot at the Armory, Ohrstrom-Bryant Theatre, and the parking garage behind Brandt Student Center. He discussed the goal to push the parking to the outskirts of campus and make S.U. a more friendly space.

This open forum was a time where students’ voices were heard and where the directors of crucial departments could show how they are trying to improve S.U. for us. A lot of questions are still left to be answered.

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