Staff Editorial: Campus Safety

It is almost impossible to imagine Lawrence without Campus Safety. Campus Safety officers are instrumental in maintaining a safe and responsible culture on our campus, and work incredibly hard and provide many widely beneficial services that make them helpful and easy to access. Campus Safety is easy to contact; their phone number is posted in almost every public space around campus, and they operate 24/7. Students have access to personnel who can get them around campus or off-campus, help them get into their rooms, assist in medical emergencies and aid students in reporting issues on campus. Campus Safety officers are always friendly, accessible, and trustworthy. However, in light of recent student involved traffic incidents along College Avenue, we believe that campus can rethink the service of Campus Safety to improve student’s accessibility and make each officers job easier, as well as giving students more abundant, safe ways to get around.

Primarily, students have experienced frustration in the availability and response times of Campus Safety during peak hours for different minor services, such as getting rides around campus, due to Campus Safety’s wide array of responsibilities and services. Campus safety is responsible for helping students get rides around campus as well as into the surrounding community, helping students get back into their rooms, assisting in medical emergencies, and responding and aiding students in whatever other issues are reported on campus. As a result, at any given time the safety officer on duty may have a queue of different responsibilities to attend to, often times making officers unavailable and leaving students without a ride or way to get back into their room. [Kevin Goggins, who has worked for Campus Safety for six years, believes that to help solve this problem, the driving system could be expanded upon, as well as student access to Campus Safety officers. These are both projects which are in the works, as well as improvements to outdoor lighting on campus to increase pedestrian safety at crosswalks. ]

We believe that campus can have two or more officers on duty at any given time, and might implement a system in which one staff member remains on campus for the duration of their shift, while another is able to transport students safely around and away from campus. By doing so, an officer can always be available to help students with rides—getting to appointments, the pharmacy, or team lifts and practice—while having another officer readily available to help in emergencies or other reported instances. Students wouldn’t be left waiting, and officers would no longer have to be both a taxi-service and a safety service. Campus might also rethink student transportation altogether, providing a 24/7 service dedicated solely to giving students rides, and, again, freeing officers to attend to issues on campus while making transportation readily available to students. [When asked about the biggest challenges as a part of Campus Safety, Goggins said, “The biggest thing is students have the perception that we are like police or not there for them. But we really are just trying to provide a safe and secure environment for them to live in.”]

Campus Safety does a great job in aiding students on campus and keeping Lawrence a safe, secure, and accessible place. However, despite Campus Safety’s tireless service, student’s might often times find wait times, officer availability, and finding quick and easy transportation around or off campus to be frustrating. By implementing new systems of transportation or redesigning Campus Safety officers’ responsibilities, campus can go a long way in making officer’s jobs easier and making services more readily available to students in need.