Friday Letter 2016-09-16:
The Best Campus is a Safe Campus
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The University of Idaho has always stood out for having a distinctive residential campus. Among our historic buildings and modern facilities, students find a living and learning environment that facilitates growth and success. To reach that potential, a safe, supportive environment is paramount. Safety is a consideration at all our locations across the state, but with the majority of our students coming to live in Moscow, the residential campus requires a particular focus.
In the upcoming week, we affirm our values as a caring community and renew our commitment to look out for our new and continuing students. This Sunday, UI's Safety Week and Hazing Prevention Week begins, connecting students with tools and resources, expert advice and best practices, and an understanding of the support offered by UI faculty and staff, as well as fellow students. For the fourth consecutive year, new full-time students will complete our “Think About It” course, a mandatory orientation seminar that provides an interactive examination of relationships, substance abuse and violence. Two additional events — the Katy Benoit Safety Forum and a keynote address on hazing — are just a couple of examples of the opportunities to come together and focus on critical safety issues. I encourage our students to take advantage of these learning experiences.
Our participation in the national Green Dot program offers techniques and training for realistic bystander intervention in situations with potential for interpersonal violence. On Sunday, UI is joining 50 other institutions nationwide in a simultaneous Green Dot training. I want to also highlight the annual Take Back the Night rally, hosted by the Women’s Center. Mary Beth will participate in that event and is looking forward to sharing her experiences as a physician and discussing solutions with UI students and staff – women and men alike. Safety Week events key in on the “I Got Your Back” concept and affirm that we Vandals support and take care of each other.
A safe campus also requires a modern and dependable infrastructure. Last year, we made an investment in new cameras across our public spaces and at the entrances to some of our shared spaces. These cameras complement our existing security, and are investments in deterrence and accountability for our entire campus community.
The practices, perspectives and emphasis on resources and support goes beyond Safety Week. This is a commitment we must live out every day, continually assessing and improving our efforts. I can speak from personal experience as a parent, having delivered two sons and a daughter to college, that safety is a weighty consideration. As a president, that perspective keeps me focused on making sure all our students have an outstanding educational experience, and that the best residential campus in Idaho is also the safest residential campus in Idaho.