Campus Safety And Diversity: Taking The First Step

missou protest

Campus Safety And Diversity: Taking The First Step
Chris Burton
Vice President of Business Development, Greenwood Hall

Few higher education officials deny that safety is a problem on college campuses in the U.S., particularly issues of diversity, sexual assault and hazing. According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, there are currently 249 open investigations related to sexual assault across the United States. Furthermore, a cursory glance of the education sector’s headlines reveal continued strains on campus race relations. And it’s not just students staging walkouts and issuing demands as faculty, coaches and board members join the debate to voice support for better safety and inclusion initiatives. Consider the following statistics:

  • 36% of students say they would not report hazing primarily because there was “no one to tell”
  • Every 21 hours there is a rape on an American college campus
  • 5% of all college students admit to being hazed
  • 40% of college students involved in hazing report that a coach or advisor was aware of a hazing event
  • Research shows that campus violence impacts student academic performance and a higher likelihood of not completing

How colleges respond to campus safety issues continues to come under greater scrutiny as campus leaders evaluate strategies to deal with growing tensions. Most administrators want to do the right thing in creating a safe campus environment. However, it is an ongoing challenge that is complicated by tight budgets and increasing scrutiny. So, how do administrators create a safe campus environment?

red line

I’d like to suggest that the first step every college should make is to establish a 24/7/365 monitored tool (website, hotline, text, webchat, etc.) where students, employees, and other members of a campus community can obtain university sponsored information on all safety and diversity related issues, seek front line counseling and referrals to campus/community resources, and anonymously make university officials aware of any inappropriate or unlawful conduct that jeopardizes the health, well-being, or safety of a campus community. Reaching far beyond simply offloading nonemergency calls, these tools can provide campus leaders the capacity to capture all incoming data on every incident, request or query, track response and resolution times, and use data to make informed decisions about resource allocation.

When looking to improve campus safety and diversity, aim to set new standards. Campus safety is not just about university police; it’s about advocacy, incident reporting, retention, education, prevention, and support resources. An investment in the right resources may prove small compared to the cost of inaction.