No turnout at DPS forum

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

For 40 minutes Tuesday night, officers from the Department of Public Safety waited in MacMillan 115 for students to voice complaints in an open forum. But none came – the only students in attendance were a Herald reporter and a Herald photographer.

Chief of Police Mark Porter said that the open forum had been publicized in Morning Mail on Monday of this week, in table slips and in two mass e-mails to all students, one in September and one this month.

The forum was also mentioned Sept. 4 during a public hearing to reaccredit DPS with the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies. Four students spoke at that meeting – though they spoke on a video that CALEA would review – and did not receive any response to their comments. Last night’s forum was arranged to offer a chance for dialogue between students and DPS officials.

When the September CALEA hearing was originally scheduled for August, Porter received e-mails from students asking him to change the date to a time when students were on campus. Porter decided in August to hold an open forum at some point during this school year, and DPS started publicizing it in September.

“I wasn’t expecting standing-room only, but I was expecting some students to show,” said Michelle Nuey, DPS manager of special services. Both she and Porter said they felt students probably did not show up last night because they are currently busy with midterms.

“It’s a combination of things,” Porter said when asked why no one came to the forum. “Its probably not the best time of the academic year. Students are … taking or studying for midterms, so we know that schedules are difficult.”

Nuey said DPS would probably offer another open community forum in the future, though the “regional” outreaches – meetings DPS holds with two or three residence halls at a time – usually draw more people. Additional open forums like last nights’ will be held every academic year during the fall, Porter wrote in an e-mail to The Herald.