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Task Force on Campus Safety and Security reports findings

August 2, 2010 -- The Task Force on Campus Security, appointed in April to examine campus safety and security practices on the Arkansas State University-Jonesboro campus, has submitted a written report which outlines current safety practices, targets areas of concern, and offers recommendations for improved security measures.

“Among the top priorities for Arkansas State University is to ensure the safety and security of the campus community,” said Dr. Rick Stripling, vice chancellor for Student Affairs and task force chair. “This report contains the findings of a broad-based task force which includes a proposed action plan addressing safety and security concerns.

In April 2010, the 10-member task force was appointed by former Chancellor Robert L. Potts to examine the strengths and weaknesses of ASU’s practices and to recommend reasonable additions or changes to enhance the safety and security of campus residents, employees, and visitors.

Current interim Chancellor Dr. Dan Howard met with the Task Force last week and received a formal written copy of the report as well as a full briefing. Dr. Howard expressed his appreciation to Dr. Stripling and to the other members of the Task Force. He stated that, “ASU is committed to addressing the recommendations of the Task Force with a high sense of priority and with the necessary resources.”

The task force gained input, including comments and recommendations, from three major constituency groups—students, faculty, and staff as well as from the surrounding community. Two forums were held to obtain additional input from the campus community. In addition, task force members made two physical tours of the ASU-Jonesboro campus at 9 p.m. to get an accurate sense of the nighttime environment on campus. These tours included visiting the grounds surrounding academic and administrative buildings, residence halls, other housing areas located from the heart of campus, Academic Circle and Faculty Circle--both located on the west side of campus.

The information was then compiled into a format entitled “Campus Safety Action,” and served as an aid in the development of possible effective safety solutions. Other data pertaining to actual crimes committed on the ASU campus and reported in compliance with the Clery Act were also collected.

“The information the task force collected helped to identify primary areas of concern which range from easily resolved matters to more complex policy issues,” continued Stripling. “Some of the more easily solved issues include the repair of doors and replacement of light bulbs.”

Stripling noted that the group’s finding involving other primary concerns include insufficient number of university police personnel; accessibility to university facilities by unauthorized persons; lack of knowledge about existing safety resources and services, personal safety awareness and responses; insufficient communication to campus via emergency alerts, nighttime lighting, security cameras/monitoring, and security in residential parking lots during evening hours, specifically North Park Quad.

Also, the report notes that, in general, the majority of students providing input stated they felt ASU-Jonesboro is a safe campus and that personal awareness and behavior are keys to avoiding or preventing crime.

The report provides an extensive list of recommendations, including the addition of police officer positions in the next biennium cycle; automatic enrollment in the Rave Emergency Alert notice system with an “opt-out” feature for those who do not wish to receive e-mail or text messages regarding emergencies on the ASU campus; installation of new vehicle access and pedestrian gates and security cameras in the Collegiate Park area; expand the student patrol service into the core of campus residential facilities; develop a timeline for upgrading lighting across the campus; increase the number of emergency phones across campus and paint the posts red for better visibility; update the campus Emergency Procedures Handbook and distribute across campus and online; develop a marketing plan to promote safety resources and practices; require emergency response training for faculty and staff and provide similar training to students; and post signage designating areas on campus where security surveillance exists and where crime watch programs are in effect.

On Monday, August 2, the Chancellor’s Executive Council met and approved the expenditure of $350,000 to address immediate and critical safety issues raised in the Task Force Report.

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