Augustana’s Safety: New and Old

Natalie McMillan

Handing out donuts on the Brew by the Slough patio, Augustana Public Safety Officers discussed the importance of safety with students at their “Cops and Donuts” event, part of Safety Week. Mark Beckwith, the Deputy Chief of Police; Dennis Corwin, the Second Shift Supervisor; and Kyle Hankins, a Public Safety Officer, touched on topics such as camera installations and new apps that will be available to students.

Safety Week is a collection of events put together by The Office of Residential Life, the president’s office, and the Public Safety’s Office, such as “Cops and Donuts” and the dum dums and smarties that are left on student’s doors. “We do Safety Week,” Hankins said, “because we get a lot of people that come from different backgrounds that sometimes may not know safety, certain safety precautions in our area, or on campus.”

During “Cops and Donuts,” the Public Safety Officers answered students’ questions about how Augustana handles safety with incidences ranging from shootings to car theft, further explaining how Augustana takes their safety seriously.

“Colleges have an accreditation system, where if you’ve reached the highest level you receive this distinction called ‘Ready to Respond Campus,’ and we are the only private liberal arts in this state that has achieved that. We are on second term of it right now,” Beckwith said. Among faculty from the Augie administration, Beckwith has spoken nationally about what Augustana does for safety.

One way Public Safety is working to make students feel safe is by putting up new cameras in the Lower Quad with the Slough Path and Westerlin parking lot to follow. “We realized there are areas that we can not see and be in all the time,” Beckwith said. “And we want to dismiss anyone who is thinking that this is ‘Big Brother.’ This is not that whatsoever. It’s what it is that we can see to eliminate, to stop a situation from happening, or provide assistance. So we have cameras.”

Many students do feel safe with the new installation. Carli Schwanebeck, a senior Woman and Gender Studies major, is one of these students. In light of what happened last year with the “Clothesline Project,” a yearly event held by the Woman and Gender Studies department to support sexual assault victims, where their display was vandalized twice, Schwanebeck feels these cameras will help discourage people who wish to do harm on campus. “We all go to school here, we pay tuition, so we pay here to be safe, so if there are cameras in the buildings, I feel like there may as well be cameras outside of the buildings because it is still on the property,” Schwanebeck said.

Another way Augustana is looking out for their student’s safety is through the production of two new apps for student convenience: an ACES app and a one-touch emergency app. The ACES app was an idea developed by a couple of ACES students. Beckwith said, “They spoke with Chief Phillis who oversees that program and he said give it a try. So they developed it. It’s kinda like our own Uber. It’s gonna be easier for students, where you can push on the app and order your ACES transportation, which is gonna be great.”

As for the one touch emergency app, “If we have a student that needs to call us,” Beckwith said, pulling up the app on his phone, “they can press that and it’ll come back to us right away. As soon as he or she sends that, it alerts our dispatch and there’s going to be chatting back and forth. If she or he is not able to answer back right away, they are going to get a quick message, which they have 15 seconds to answer. That’s how quick we want it.”

The app, Beckwith said, will not constantly survey the user’s location, but will ping it with each message the student sends, and if the student doesn’t respond or request help, Public Safety’s dispatch can immediately send reinforcements to the student’s location. Besides being a faster way to reach Public Safety, the app will hold information for students such as emergency posters, counseling services contacts, Title IX information, and much more. Beckwith is also working with the developers to get the safety information in different languages to make it easier for students whose first language is not English. Currently the app is only being used by people in Public Safety as they work to finish the app, but they will announce it when it is available for the student body.

With all these changes, Augustana is looking forward to a new, safe year. “If someone sees something, say something. If somebody hears something, say something. Call right away. There’s never a silly question. There’s never a silly call to us.”