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September 20, 2000

Campus Takes Steps to Increase Safety

The first wave of an effort to make the campus even safer is nearly complete. Over the summer, crews from facilities management began increasing the lighting on campus, installing new fixtures and trimming shrubbery and tree branches around existing ones.

The lighting improvements are among several remedies underway to not only increase campus safety but make those who use the campus feel safe while they are here, says David Braverman, chair of the Campus Safety Committee. Braverman, who is also associate vice president for student affairs, says the effort began to proactively respond to some expressed campus concerns.

"One of our goals is to keep this campus a safe place," he says, "for all the people who use the campus - the students, the faculty and the staff."

ASI President Jason Bryant made campus safety a cornerstone of his election campaign. "There is a perception that people don't feel safe even though we are one of the safest campuses in the state," he says. "But perception can be more important and more powerful than any statistic."

For what is essentially a small city -- with 25,000 students and about 2,700 faculty and staff - the crime rate at CSUS is quite low. And the vast majority of crimes on campus last year were non-violent burglaries and motor vehicle thefts.

The safety effort is a joint effort of administration, public safety, faculty, staff and students.

Braverman said the committee is looking into four main safety issues: lighting, emergency phones, increased security presence and understanding people's perceptions of safety.

Two lighting surveys were done to determine the need for additional illumination. One divided the campus into grids and then measured actual foot-candle output of each grid. The other was a more subjective walkthrough where areas were rated on a scale of "well-lit" to "dark."

Many of the recommended lighting improvements are already in place, such as in front of the new Mariposa Hall and between Eureka Hall and the parking structure, Bryant says. Additional fixtures, which had to be ordered, are expected to be installed by mid-October.

A census of the availability of campus emergency phones yielded positive results. Campus phones can be found on every floor of every building with emergency information posted nearby, Braverman says.

Blue emergency phones are available in parking lots, with 21 in the parking garage alone. In addition, there are phones in every classroom and outside of several buildings like the CSUS Bookstore and in major public places like the Union. There are also a few emergency phones in the center of the campus and a plan to install an emergency phone in front of each new building.

To increase the campus security presence, representatives from the CSUS police department, criminal justice department and Associated Students are exploring a campus cadet program. "We're working with the criminal justice department and campus police in order to provide more eyes and ears on campus and increase safety," says Shirley Uplinger, vice president for student affairs.

The program is still in the early stages of development, but Bryant says they envision the cadets as hosts, not police officers. Their job would be to be visible and available to answer questions, escort people to their cars or buildings and to call for assistance if needed. Bryant says they hope to have the program in place by next fall.

The committee is also spreading the word about escort services that already are in place to keep people safe. The CSUS Shuttle runs nightly from dusk to 11 p.m.

Faculty, staff and students can call 278-7260 from any campus phone and the shuttle will pick them up and take them to their car or to another campus building. The longest wait is about 10 minutes, says Jeff Bingle, shuttle coordinator. When the shuttle is not in operation, anyone in need of an escort can contact public safety at 278-6851 for assistance.

The University also implemented a new alcohol policy this semester designed to reduce instances of excessive drinking that might put people at risk.

"In consultation with Jason Bryant and ASI we have revised the policy related to athletic events," Uplinger says. "Confining tailgating to a specific area and eliminating drinking in the stadium except in the beer garden enhances the fun environment and allows for greater safety and less risk of problems related to drinking."


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