University News

UCS proposes new campus safety measures

The council also held a forum to discuss campus apathy toward student government

By
Senior Staff Writer
Thursday, March 7, 2013

Members of the Undergraduate Council of Students suggested extending SafeWalk to Fridays and Saturdays and increasing lighting on campus to improve public safety while speaking with Deputy Chief of the Department of Public Safety Paul Shanley at the council’s general body meeting Wednesday.

DPS is considering expanding SafeWalk into weekends, Shanley said. “We’re crunching the numbers to see how much it would cost to add Friday and Saturday nights,” he said.

DPS also makes efforts “behind the scenes” to ensure students get home safely, such as assigning two or three officers to offer students rides back to campus from popular destinations such as the Whiskey Republic, he said.

Kyra Mungia ’13, UCS communications chair, identified inadequate street lighting as another public safety issue.

Shanley said DPS usually asks Facilities Management to install temporary light fixtures until the National Grid can put in place more permanent lighting, citing the current light on the corner of George and Thayer Streets as a sample case.

Besides streets, areas on campus such as the Main Green could potentially benefit from increased lighting, said Brandon Tomasso ’13, UCS vice president.

DPS must “find a balance” between need and aesthetics when making decisions about lighting the Main Green, weighing “where we need light and where it looks best,” Shanley said.

After discussing public safety with Shanley,  the council approved Miyo Malouf ’16 as the new elections board vice chair. Malouf will assist Caleb Miller ’16, elections board chair and a senior staff writer for The Herald, in running the spring UCS elections process.

Malouf “would be good at diffusing conflict between candidates,” said Holly Hunt ’13, UCS general body member.

The council also joined with members of the Brown Conversation to hold an open discussion about the purpose and frustrations of student government. The student body’s apathy and lack of awareness about UCS’s efforts emerged as a major topic.

The Brown Conversation, a year-old initiative, brings students together on Saturday nights for dinner and informal discussion of their frustrations with the University, such as the cost of tuition, said Marguerite Joutz ’15, a member of the group. Last semester, the group brought in several strategic planning committee members, and it will host President Christina Paxson in April, Joutz added.

Members of the Brown Conversation sought to foster discussion with UCS because the two groups talk about similar issues, so the campus could benefit from their cooperation, said Wayne Byun ’16. “How can we collaborate to make this school a better place?” he said.

“A lot of times it’s really difficult to get people to care,” said Christine Mullen ’16, UCS general body member, citing the fact that the majority of students do not check the council’s Facebook page and did not respond to its fall poll.

“There’s nothing stopping people who care from being as aware as they want to be,” said Kimberly Wachtler ’13, UCS general body member. Students often vent their discontent with UCS without being truly informed about the issues at stake, Wachtler said, adding that “people love to throw bombs and they don’t like to do research.”

Council members said the bureaucratic nature of UCS could account for students’ lack of awareness.

Many items on UCS’s agenda, such as categorizing student groups for funding purposes, are “behind the scenes” and “procedural,” said Alexander Kaplan ’14, Student Activities chair.

“It’s not sexy. There’s a lot of bureaucracy inherent in UCS,” said Maahika Srinivasan ’15, UCS Corporation liaison.

Council members said their discussion with members of the Brown Conversation was a positive experience that shed valuable light on the function and challenges of student government.

“This made me think more about what the role of student government should be,” said Stanley Stewart ’16.

“I really appreciated the flow of ideas here,” said UCS President Anthony White ’13. “I think we don’t often ask questions about why we’re doing certain things, so this has been helpful,” he said. “This will help us reevaluate what we’re doing.”