UNC group discusses campus security recommendations
Higher salaries for campus police officers and barring students from panels hearing cases about serious offenses are among the recommendations in a draft report from the University of North Carolina’s Campus Security Initiative.
The group, charged in October 2013 with exploring how best to shore up campus security and student safety – especially as it relates to violent crimes, such as sexual assault -- met for the last time Wednesday.
Members from throughout the 17-school UNC System discussed the findings and recommendations in the draft report, as well as the draft of a white paper on alcohol and substance abuse presented by Winston Crisp, vice chancellor of student affairs at UNC-Chapel Hill.
Tom Shanahan, vice president and general counsel for UNC’s General Administration, asked the group Wednesday which recommendations they’d most like to see going forward in the final report.
Those that proved most popular included:
- Establishing a UNC systemwide Campus Security Committee.
- Funding a crime-report compliance officer position at each campus.
- Raising salaries for public safety officers and telecommunicators on campus.
“UNC system police officers have much more diversity in job tasks than their less specialized municipal colleagues, and their salaries should reflect these responsibilities,” the draft report states.”
But the report also includes recommendations that students shouldn’t serve on panels that deal with Title IX cases or serious offenses and that students should have clear notice of the right to representation by attorneys or non-attorney advocates during disciplinary hearings.
“Campus adjudication procedures should be revised to provide that students will not serve on hearing panels for cases involving these matters,” the draft report states.
Last year, UNC-Chapel Hill came under fire over the fact that a student alleging rape faced an honor court composed of other students.
Other recommendations in the report:
- Funding victim assistant positions within each campus law enforcement agency.
- Developing a campus climate survey.
- Creating a safety-centered mobile phone application for students.
- Implementing “good Samaritan” policies to encourage students to report serious incidents to campus officials.
Several participants in the meeting Wednesday recommended blending elements of the alcohol and substance abuse white paper with the final draft report.
The white paper draws connections between alcohol abuse, assault and tuition dollars lost due to dropouts.
Binge drinking and other abuses of alcohol are “at the heart of almost everything bad that goes on on campus,” Crisp said during his presentation. Such abuse can lead to poor academic performance, accidental injuries – sometimes fatal, as well as fights and sexual assaults, he said.
Nationally, statistics indicate 1,825 college students die from alcohol-related injuries. Nearly 600,000 are hurt. About 700,000 are assaulted. And 97,000 report sexual assaults and date rape.
College students are the fastest-growing segment seeking treatment for alcohol and substance abuse, Crisp said, jumping 143 percent in the past decade compared to 14 percent overall for the general population.
Problems for students range from “pre-gaming” – consuming alcohol to lower inhibitions or save money before going out with friends – to celebration drinking, such as a student turning 21 tackling the challenge of drinking 21 shots.
“That’s like drinking a whole fifth,” Crisp said. “It is not going to end well.”
The final report and recommendations are expected to be presented to the UNC Board of Governors for discussion in August.
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