Strategies to Improve Campus Safety
Campus safety has become increasingly complex. Higher ed leaders face the threat of serious safety incidents on their campuses every day, while changing legislative mandates only add to the complexity. Ensuring that safety training and processes are up to date can be challenging. As a result, many institutions are adopting more efficient processes and individualized technology solutions that improve campus safety while saving time and money.
Learn how the University of North Dakota adopted some of these new strategies and processes to improve campus safety, subsequently reducing the university’s insurance premiums by $500,000 in the first year alone. The UND associate director for safety will share details of these initiatives, as well as some best practices, tools and strategies that can help to improve campus safety at any institution.
Director, Higher Education Initiatives
Associate Director for Safety
University of North Dakota
Tom Elmer: I feel privileged to be helping colleges and universities become safer and more inclusive.
Campus safety is more complex and litigious than ever before. I’m going to share headlines that highlight some of the serious issues you as administrators are dealing with today. We have hazing deaths where fraternity members may face charges; 16 Beta Theta Pi fraternity members are charged in the alleged hazing death of 19-year-old Timothy Piazza. A female student reported she was attacked by three of the college’s basketball players; the university settles for $800,000. A student is killed by police after ramming his car into a crowd on campus and stabbing several students. Eight people sue a university for violating Title IX after they say the school inadequately responded to allegations of sexual misconduct by several athletes; total cost of the lawsuit: $3 million.
The growing number of issues that colleges and universities are facing is daunting. They’re getting broader as well. “University to pay $2.4 million in Clery Act fine.” “College pays $28,000 to end ransomware attack.” “University cited for lab safety after explosion.” “Football player dies after suffering in-game neck injury.” What will the next headline be? Are you prepared?
With all the issues that were just mentioned, just how safe are our campuses? What do the statistics say? According to the National Center for Education Statistics, since 2001 the number of on-campus crimes reported has decreased by 29 percent, while the number of reported forcible sex offenses has increased by 77 percent. There are 37,000 reported criminal incidents on U.S. campuses every year, and that number is likely lower than reality because of the campus crimes that are unreported. There were almost 15,000 offenses under VAWA, or the Violence Against Women’s Act.
The number of reported disciplinary actions is a quarter-million. Fifty percent of college students seek some mental health support on campuses.
The top five criminal acts on campuses are:
1. burglaries and break-ins
2. forcible sex offenses
3. motor vehicle thefts
4. aggravated assaults
In addition to violence and crimes, there are a growing number of legislative compliance mandates that colleges and universities must address, including the Campus Save Act, all the OSHA requirements, the Clery Act, Title IV, Title VII, Title IX, Title XI, VAWA and many more. Some of the top requirements from insurance carriers to keep premiums down include decreasing employee and student injuries, reducing property and damage claims, and maintaining specialized systems and equipment to minimize repairs and costly upkeeps. As a campus administrator, how can you manage it all? This seems like a very daunting and very challenging task.
Terry Wynne: We knew what we wanted in a system, but we had no idea who supplied it. So we broke it down in a way that allowed us to look for what we wanted. We needed it to be easy to operate. We had to find a way to get every one of our 5,000 to 6,000 employees into the system with information that we could use for our campus. It also needed to be reasonably priced—very reasonably priced. One of the most important things for us was customizability—being able to make the system the way we needed it. And the most important feature of all: It had to have Clery and Title IX training.
We started looking, which took approximately six months. Then we received an email from SafeColleges about their online training, and it was one of the best things that ever happened around this university.
Our biggest benefit is that we’re able to create custom policies and courses. We’ve created well over 50 or 60 different custom courses in the SafeColleges Training System with content from experts on our campus, because they fit what we need at our university.
For supervisors, reports have been such a plus because they can take the individuals who are in their area, have them listed out, and the individuals then can turn around and find out who has been completing their required trainings. Then we know that people are up to date, and that they’re doing the things they need to do. If they’re not completing their assigned courses, then we can find out why, which gives us a basis by which to follow through. That’s perfect for compliance, perfect for personnel records, perfect for helping our HR performance evaluations. In 18 months of using SafeColleges Training, our 5,366 employees have completed 54,400 courses. That’s huge. Being able to do that opens us up for having a better safety culture.
Here’s the next thing that opened our eyes: our risk management. Before SafeColleges Training, our premium was $1 million. We were tasked to get into a premium reduction program. Because we were able to get 60 percent, then 70 percent, then 75 percent of our employees into training, we got refunded $500,000, which was an incredible savings.
SafeColleges Training also saves valuable time. It allows each of the departments to train more people quickly so that we don’t have to bring in additional staff. I can give out a program that’s consistent and uniform, and that helps us in making sure we get out the compliance message.
Our main item is that we need to make sure people are safe. That’s the biggest thing. In the process, the extra added benefit is that this system saves us money too. And if we save money, we’re going to keep people employed.
Campus safety is a team effort. We could never do this by ourselves. The SafeColleges Training System has helped us save money, but more importantly, has made UND a safer place for students and employees, and that’s what matters most.
To watch this web seminar in its entirety, visit www.universitybusiness.com/ws101217