Campus safety recommendations

Leaders across the University of Utah campus presented an update on the status of the 30 campus safety recommendations, including action items for implementation, and answered questions from the U’s Board of Trustees on Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019—focusing on training and education, staffing and improved communication processes.

The safety recommendations came from an independent review team’s findings after the tragic death of U student Lauren McCluskey in October 2018.

“Increasing safety on campus has been a significant focus of recent months,” U President Ruth Watkins emphasized during the meeting. “We must make an unceasing and complete commitment to this responsibility. This commitment is not a one-time response, but an important part of our institutional culture going forward.”

The below transcript has been edited for brevity and clarity. To listen to the full Board of Trustees meeting, click here.


Ruth V. Watkins, President 

Good morning. Trustees, as you’re aware, increasing safety on campus has been a significant focus of recent months. Today,  we want to take the opportunity for a more complete update to the full board on actions that we have taken, as well as works in progress. What happened to Lauren McCluskey is an absolute tragedy. I remain deeply sorrowful about Lauren’s death and I know that our campus continues to grieve for Lauren. We note also that today is her birthday. I’m committed to addressing each of the shortcomings identified in the independent review team’s report so that our campus will truly be safer. I’m taking personal responsibility to see that every one of the review team’s 30 recommendations is put into place as quickly as possible.

I appreciate the hard work of Jeff Herring, who is our Chief Human Resource Officer, and others on campus, in prioritizing changes and giving them their full attention. As we discover new issues that should be addressed, new practices that could be adopted and new approaches to reducing the likelihood of violence on our campus, we will act. I’m committed to doing all that I can to ensure the safety of students, staff, faculty and visitors on our campus. I believe that we must make an unceasing and complete commitment to this responsibility. I am demanding the same accountability of all leaders on our campus.

As we continue forward in the months ahead, I and others will provide the board with periodic updates on our progress. I’d like now to ask Jeff Herring to lead a more specific update on actions that have been taken to date and work that is in progress.

Jeff Herring, Chief Human Resources Officer 

Thank you, president. Thank you, trustees, for letting us be here today. This has been a daunting task for us, but as you know, we got through the independent report and had 30 recommendations, which the university all accepted. As we went through, we wanted to make sure we were accountable in addressing all of those and so as we looked at that, we assigned lead individuals in the administration to be accountable for all 30 action items. Underneath those team leads, there were multifunctional units involved in making sure those were implemented. Because [the recommendations] aren’t just isolated in one area, this is a multifunction approach to our campus.

We itemized the list of actions, the status and target completion dates. You can see we’ve got a graphic here. I’m not sure you’ll be able to read that, but you all have an individual packet with those updates on there, as well as our SafeU website. We’ll have a real-time update for our campus community, and our community in general, on all of those action items. We’ll also make sure that we monitor many of these items which are already in place. Many are in progress and many will be ongoing. So, the completion dates won’t just end for many of these items, they’ll have an ongoing nature with the recommendations that come forward. We’ll monitor and update those closely.

We’re also making sure that each first cabinet meeting of every month we have very extensive discussions regarding the safety efforts across campus as well. As you can see up here, there are many people involved in this—some of the leaders involved in many of these. First, I’d like to introduce Barb Snyder, who is our vice president of Student Affairs. She oversees many of the efforts in Housing & Residential Education and with the Office of the Dean of Students. With that, I’ll turn it over to Barb.

Barb Snyder, Vice President for Student Affairs and Co-Chair of the Presidential Task Force on Campus Safety 

Thank you. Good morning. Many of the recommendations made by the independent review team pertained to areas that are in my area of accountability. I want to be candid. When I read the review team’s report and saw these deficiencies, I was deeply concerned. I’m making it my personal and professional responsibility to see that these shortcomings are addressed quickly and responsibly. As you know, I’ll be retiring this summer. I want part of my legacy at the U to be having contributed to a safer campus for every student. I commit to you that the staff in the areas that I oversee are moving forward with seriousness and speed to get these changes made, and you’ll learn about that more in just a minute. I’d like to introduce our Dean of Students, Lori McDonald, and Barb Remsburg, our director of Housing & Residential Education.

Lori McDonald, Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students

Thank you, President Watkins, for acknowledging that today would have been Lauren McCluskey’s 22nd birthday. She is remembered, and she will never be forgotten. Thank you, I just wanted to say that.

A few of the recommendations by the report referred to what we call our Behavioral Intervention Team, and common to higher education, we use lots of acronyms, so it’s often referred to as BIT. This is a multidisciplinary group of professionals from across campus that is coordinated by the Office of the Dean of Students.

We are working on promoting reporting awareness across campus. We’re working with university communications on a comprehensive communication campaign that we could put in place on an annual basis in the future, and we’ll include an upcoming article in the @TheU newsletter and direct messaging to faculty and staff across campus about protocols for how to engage the Behavioral Intervention Team. And we’ll also be doing this in conjunction with the Office of Equal Opportunity in clarifying what mandatory reporting requirements are for faculty and staff across campus.

In terms of staffing, we’re hiring an additional case manager in the Office of the Dean of Students dedicated to the Behavioral Intervention Team to assist with this increased outreach and also to help respond to increase caseload. We’re conducting interviews now and are very hopeful to have someone hired by March 1. Software is certainly a tool that helps us do these jobs, and we are trying to utilize technology to maximize our communication between Behavioral Intervention Team members and referring agencies, and so we’ve been evaluating our current student conduct case management software program. We’re opening an RFP starting next week to see if we can seek the most appropriate tool possible.

In terms of training, we’ve arranged to be the host campus for training by the professional association called the National Behavioral Intervention Team Association, NaBITA, in June. And we will have a Case Management and Intervention Course along with a SIVRA-35 training. And that stands for Structured Interview for Violence Risk Assessment. Both of these will be attended by key staff from the Office of the Dean of Students, Housing & Residential Education and members of the Behavioral Intervention Team. I’ll turn the time over to Barb Remsburg.

Barb Remsburg, Director of Housing & Residential Education 

Good morning. My name is Barb Remsburg, and I serve as the Director of Housing & Residential Education here at the U. We have been focusing, in housing, on four primary areas that I want to update you on today. Those being policy outreach, streamlining our processes, reviewing our facilities and training. Starting with policy outreach: In January, when students returned after winter break, we had community meetings of all of our residents, and we addressed four items with them.

One, we reviewed the overnight guest policy. Two, we provided places on campus, online and the websites where they can report incidents—anything that they see, any potential violations—so we made them aware of that. Third, we talked about the concealed weapons policy on campus. Fourth, we talked about tailgating. Tailgating is when someone who has access to a space allows others that might be coming behind them to walk in behind them. So, if I live in a building, I have access to that space, if there are others that are coming in behind me. While we work to help ensure that students know each other, there’s no way that they can guarantee that they know everybody that might be walking in behind them. We’re trying to raise safety awareness so that students are aware that who walks in behind them that they are partially responsible for their safety on campus as well.

We reached out through those community meetings, but we also did poster campaigns, table tents in all of our dining facilities, as well as a push out on social media. In February, since February is Dating Violence Awareness Month, we’re focusing on bystander awareness, and we’re focusing on who to report to and where to report situations of sexual violence. In addition, in HRE, we created a task force that looked at the overnight guest policy. The role of that task force was to gather the data from our Pac-12 institutions and to feed that to the campus safety committee, which you will hear about later.

That has been completed, and in addition, they are also reaching out to gather information about enforcement and access and association with overnight guests and guests on campus. One of the items that we’re taking a look at is we currently have three community desks on our campus, soon to be four with the South Campus Project. These are 24-hour information community desks. Currently, the midnight shift is staffed by our students and we are working with UPD and an MOU to replace our students with security staff in all of our community desks. We’re anticipating that to be in place by fall.

Moving on to streamlining our processes. Currently, when we become aware of a student of concern, all of that information is loaded into the software that Lori talked with you about. That information is now reviewed by one person and it is shared with one person in the Office of the Dean of Students. Those two individuals then review the case, make a plan of action into how to follow up so that student can get connected with those resources as quickly as possible. Those resources also include the Office of Equal Opportunity, Victim[-Survivor] Advocates, review by the Behavioral Intervention Team and connection with UPD.

We, too, in that streamlining process, want to make sure that we are responding as quickly as possible, so we are hiring a resident outreach coordinator. This person will have the sole responsibility to follow up and make immediate contact with those students as soon as we become aware of their situation.

Moving onto facilities: In 2017, we updated the majority of our facilities in housing by adding security cameras located in the stairwells, in the elevators and at the entrances.

The one area that we didn’t do at that time as part of that project is our 10 historic homes. On Officer’s Circle, we have 10 houses, and we are currently developing a recommendation for the Campus Safety Subcommittee to install cameras, to change out the doors on those houses to a more secure door, and to add swipe access. Currently, they have hard-key access into those buildings.

Secondly, in our new construction—so that’s since 2012, so that would be the Marriott Honors Community, Lassonde Studios and now the South Campus Housing and Dining Project—we have ensured that there are three layers of security from the outside of the building to the resident’s room. We’re developing a recommendation that would add those additional layers of security into our other existing housing as well. The information has been forwarded to the Campus Security Task Force and the estimate is being developed and that will be forwarded as well.

We also internally developed a Department Lockdown Task Force. This group of staff is taking a look at the spaces where we have community spaces. Those would be lounges, classrooms, conference rooms or community spaces. If there is a secure-in-place alert that goes out, that we would have the capability from the inside of the room to be able to lock the door. We’re identifying those spaces and developing a recommendation to change out the locks in our spaces in the residence halls so that those community spaces can be a place for students to be able to secure in place. We’ve changed out the locks that are being identified for the South Campus Project so that project will already be in compliance when it opens.

Last is on training: Lori talked a little bit in regards to some of the procedural changes and that are taking place. We have trained and updated our staff on those procedural changes and on making referrals to BIT, to the Office of Equal Opportunity, to the Victim[-Survivor] Advocates that took place in January. We conducted, in HRE, our annual department training with OEO on mandated reporting, and we also trained our staff on those four items that we talked with students about: Overnight guests, concealed weapons on campus, the tailgating and ensuring that staff know where direct students to report issues.

Lastly, we’ve been in communication with the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition in regards to helping to create a more in-depth training for core members of our team that work most directly with students in concerning situations and also to engage and train them on the Lethality Assessment Program or the LAP Program, and that will take place by the end of spring semester. Thank you.

Jeff Herring, Chief Human Resources Officer 

Thank you, Barb, and Lori and Barb. Many of the items were for our University of Utah Public Safety Department, and we’ve got Dale Brophy here to update us on the items in the areas in his area. Dale.

Dale Brophy, Chief of Police, Department of Public Safety   

Thanks, Jeff, appreciate it. Morning. We owned 16 of these 30 recommendations personally here in the Department of Public Safety. I have broken them down into a couple of different areas. Most of the recommendations fell within processes or policies that needed to be either implemented, updated or revised. I’m happy to say that all of those have been completed, but some of them are ongoing. Everything that we’ve implemented, whether it’s a policy change or a procedure change, we’ve implemented and put into our training program going forward so everybody who gets hired onto the department from this point forward will get the exact same training to make sure that it’s in our policy manual.

Some of those larger issues were that our systems weren’t talking to each other. If you had a security interaction, it wasn’t in the same database as a police interaction. We fixed that, and that’s no longer an issue for us. Then victim contact in a timely manner was also another one. We’ve streamlined our process in the patrol division, which allows for our reports to be turned around before someone goes home rather than sitting in a queue waiting for review by the supervisor and then being sent on or back for correction or onto the detective supervisor. That’s done before anybody leaves to ensure that everything’s correct—that we have all the information that’s needed and that it gets to the right spot in a timely manner.

One of the other recommendations was that we become accredited. We’ve applied for accreditation through the International Association of College Law Enforcement Administrators. We’ve been accepted. That’s a 24- to 36-month-process we’ll be going through to become accredited. That also bleeds over into tweaking our policies for the Department of Public Safety to make sure that they’re campus specific. We’ll be able to do both of those things at one time.

One of the other recommendations, which was very important, was hiring a victim advocate. We will have our first round of interviews on Thursday. We’re hoping to select somebody and have them in place by the middle of March. That person will be integral in the communications across campus working with our current student victim advocates out of the Student Wellness Program, speaking with OEO and the Office of the Dean of Students and making sure that all interpersonal cases or interpersonal violence cases are handled and all the resources are provided.

In addition to that, the university has approved hiring a community relations specialist. We’re also interviewing for that again on Thursday, [as well as] an evidence technician, who has been hired, an administrative lieutenant and then two detective positions. Both of those—or all three of those positions—have been posted. The two detectives will be specifically for an interpersonal violence specialist and then a technology specialist. And as we move forward, that bleeds over into whether we have a specialized unit that handles interpersonal violence. We’re going to start with our victim advocate that we’re hiring, as well as our domestic violence specialist, who is a detective. That will be the start of our specialized unit to make sure that we can take whatever our needs are and build on that going forward into the future.

Several of the recommendations include training database training and its use. We’ve done training for all of our dispatchers and all of our police officers on all of the available databases, how to use them, where to find them and then actually mandating using them when we’ve identified a suspect in any type of criminal case. We’ve also created a benchmarking tool to find out how many of those events we ran last year so we can compare how many we run this year to make sure our training was effective and make sure people are using the systems that are available to them.

Also, it was recommended that we get additional domestic violence training, behavioral intervention training and also the Lethality Assessment Protocol. Everybody in the department, including our dispatchers, have been updated through domestic violence training. We brought the domestic violence sergeant from Salt Lake City Police Department up to give a domestic violence update. They handle over 3,000 cases of domestic violence a year, so we thought they were the appropriate person to bring on board to train our staff.

We’ve signed our MOU with the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition in order to enter the Lethality Assessment Protocol. We anticipate having that training done by the middle of March and we’re going to expand that training out to all of our security officers and all of our dispatchers. It’ll be on a smaller level, which will all funnel up to the Police Department, but we want everybody aware of what the protocol is and what to do if any of the questions become answered and it shifts somebody into where they need resources.

The last section of our recommendations is coordinating communication. We’ve coordinated with AP&P [Adult Probation and Parole] and the Department of Corrections, we’ve met with them on two different occasions now, we have quarterly meetings set up with them to make sure that if there are any issues with our officers or any issues with AP&P to make sure that our communication efforts aren’t hampered by not knowing phone numbers, not knowing how to get a hold of anybody. They’ve been very receptive and that’s a great relationship that we have.

Also, coordination with Student Wellness, OEO [Office of Equal Opportunity] and the Dean of Students: We’ve had several meetings with Student Wellness, who house our advocate position, as well as OEO and the Dean of Students. We plan on having quarterly meetings with those folks as well to make sure our communications stay fluid and accurate. One of the recommendations was to recognize our dispatcher for the job she did on a security call. We’ve done that.

Then finally, clarifying our role and reporting and communicating with the Office of Equal Opportunity. They need to know everything in regards to interpersonal violence. We’re working through a standardized form that we can fill out through Department of Public Safety that goes to all entities that need to know so they get all of the information right up front—we’re not missing anything and we’re closing that gap. Then lastly, on the collaboration piece, we’re working with some corporate partners to hopefully utilize some technology going forward that does some data mining, that does some collection and it provides it to the police department in real-time that will expedite our responses and help gets resources where they need to go quicker, and we’re very excited about that. We’re in the beginning stages of it, but we’re hoping to utilize the technology to our advantage to try to improve our services.

Then I’d just like to close by saying, overall, the Department of Public Safety is dedicated to all of these recommendations, and then more. Through this process, which has been an outstanding process to evaluate yourself and your department, we’ve also had several over the projects that have been developed to make us better and to do everything we possibly can to serve the students, staff and faculty of the University of Utah. Thank you.

Jeff Herring, Chief Human Resources Officer   

Thank you. I’d just like to give my thanks to the group. Many of them are up here today implementing many of these efforts and committing to getting the rest of them implemented on an ongoing basis. Beyond the 30 recommendations, we also want to make sure that we are a leader in the nation in safety on campuses—we want to take this opportunity. To that end, in December, the president called for all senior administration to submit recommendations of areas that we could improve or address on campuses with safety.

That came in, and we really saw some themes develop with those in the areas of facilities. Many over[lap] [with] the 30, but [go] above and beyond the areas that have been mentioned. Others are staffing. Do we need more staffing? Finally, the area of training. Can we get more awareness on campus? To that end, we are transitioning as we move from the 30 recommendations—specific recommendations into our Campus Safety Task Force, who is chaired by Barb Snyder and Michele Ballantyne. With that, I’ll turn them over to talk about the work that’s going on an ongoing basis with safety on campus.

Michele Ballantyne, Associate General Counsel and Co-Chair of the Presidential Task Force on Campus Safety

As you know, we’ve done a lot relating to campus safety over the past few years, and the Campus Safety Task Force made recommendations in 2017 and the university funded almost $400,000 to implement the recommendations that came out of that task force to create a safety website that’s live and has been used very effectively to increase funding for the Dean of Students, the Wellness Center, the Women’s Resource Center; to provide mandatory training to all of our students, faculty and staff; to increase campus lighting.

The president asked our task force to continue its work this semester to build on the work that was done by the external review last semester, so John Nielsen and Sue Riseling will be working with our committee to look at specific things and what we really will be focusing on will be threats to our campus community. We’ve divided our task force into five different subgroups. They’ll be addressing some of the things that Jeff mentioned. We’ll be looking at training, personnel, physical safety resources, best practices and policies, and also, they’ll be looking at a continuing structure that could continue to address campus safety after our task force work is complete this semester.

We’re sending out inquiries to our Pac-12 sister institutions and also to other peer institutions across the country to get further feedback in addition to all of the work that was done by the president’s senior staff. Those are the things we’ll be working on. We anticipate that we will have our research and our recommendations ready in April so that they can be submitted in this year’s budget cycle. In addition to that work, there’s also a student group that Barb Snyder has been working on, and she’ll be talking about that.

Barb Snyder, Vice President for Student Affairs and Co-Chair of the Presidential Task Force on Campus Safety 

Thank you. I just wanted to mention that another working group that the president has appointed was really brought about from interest from students, but it is composed of undergraduate and graduate students, faculty and staff who have a particular interest in and expertise in developing healthy relationships. I want to introduce the two co-chairs of that working group: Kwynn Gonzalez-Pons and Laura Snow. Many of you know Laura and you’ll get to know Kwynn. Kwynn’s a doctoral student here and they’re going to be looking at programs, education, helping individuals understand what constitutes a healthy relationship or an unhealthy relationship so that we can all join to help each other. That work is beginning right now, and I want to commend President Watkins for listening to students and constituting this group on their behalf.

Jeff Herring, Chief Human Resources Officer

Mr. Chair, I believe that’s our report unless there are questions from the trustees and I think we can address those specifically.

H. David Burton, Board of Trustees Chair

A few questions, but let me first express our thanks to President Watkins and the team for this presentation. We appreciate the update. Certainly, much progress has been made and much needs to be continued to be done. But on behalf of my colleagues surrounding the table, I want to express our appreciation for the very good work that’s been done thus far, and it continues to be done on a regular basis on the Campus Safety and Security Task Force. The board recognizes that these 30 recommendations have been your top priority over the past few months and we want to emphasize that it is our top priority as well.

There is nothing more important than the safety and the security of students, the staff and the faculty, visitors on this campus that approximates about 80,000 people every day. It’s a big, big task. But there’s been lots said this morning about accountability. Our role as a board is to hold the administration accountable for making certain that the recommendations are implemented and that there’s a sustained focus on doing everything possible to make the campus as safe as it possibly can be.

But with that expression of appreciation, acknowledgment of our accountability jointly, I’d like to turn the time over to my colleagues on the Board of Trustees for any questions that they may have of the president, or Jeff or your team.

Joe Sargetakis, Trustee 

I’m wondering if you have all the resources needed to implement these recommendations and if not, what are you missing?

Ruth V. Watkins, President 

Thank you Trustee Sargetakis. It’s a great question. Yes, I believe we do have the resources that we need. We have also, I think, the opportunity to reallocate some funding into this area of campus safety as needed. I would also say that our commitment to enhancing and sustaining safety on this campus is very strong and that makes it a priority for us to do so. We believe that we have the resources in order to manage this. I think one concern that is not unique to the University of Utah but really is a national concern, is hiring law enforcement officers. Certainly, we are reaching an age where many law enforcement officers are leaving the field and it is a difficult profession, no question. We are concerned as we recruit that we recruit great people and paying attention to doing so in that national context.

I think I’d also mentioned, and maybe Jeff would expand on this just a bit, that many of the actions we’ve discussed today are about awareness training and education that happened with relatively minimal costs and maybe Jeff could expand on that just a little bit.

Jeff Herring, Chief Human Resources Officer 

Thank you, president. Yes, there’s an opportunity that we have on general awareness on campus. All of the action items were specific in many areas. We acquired our learning management system about a year ago on campus. What that does is allows us to deliver trainings to all students, faculty and staff, working with our partners in Student Affairs, for training about firearms on campus, safety on campus, relationships, awareness and reporting relationships with Behavioral Intervention Team.

All of those efforts, in conjunction with our technology, will be put in place. Many of those that are part of the recommendations, but it will also be a critical part of the ongoing work of the Campus Safety Task Force as well.

Christian Gardner, Trustee

My question is regarding the communication between the various state agencies and other agencies. Maybe can you give some more depth or specific things that we’re doing to increase communication?

Jeff Herring, Chief Human Resources Officer 

That’s a great question. One of the problems we had with communicating specifically with AP&P is that when you look up a system on the database, it’ll provide on an agent’s name and an agent’s phone number. If you can’t get ahold of that agent specifically, you would leave a message, which would maybe take a couple of days. There’s another number that goes to a help desk that’s not staffed 24 hours a day. We found out that there is a number where they have an on-call person 24/7. That number has been given to every one of our officers, so they don’t have any of those issues in reaching out to those folks as well.

On the flip side of that, we’ve had some issues ourselves with our detectives or some of our officers missing critical messages on their days off. All of those items have been now pushed to our dispatch center, which is 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Any type of follow-up or any type of messages that need to be relayed will go to an on-duty officer at the time. That on-duty officer, if they need to, will reach out to the on-call detective who is on-call during off hours and they’ll take care of those situations in real-time rather than waiting to receive messages that may get missed. We don’t want to have that happen again.

And AP&P shared with us they don’t want that to happen or be a hindrance to getting the help we need from them or getting the help they need from us. As I said before, coordinating with some of our corporate partners, I believe that we’re going to be able to gather data in real-time using technology from all different sources across the state and operationalize that much, much quicker than we have been in the past, and I’m excited at the prospect of that. I hope that answers your question.

Christian Gardner, Trustee 

That does what? On that last part, what is the process of the timing of…

Jeff Herring, Chief Human Resources Officer 

We’re meeting with a few different folks right now. We need to do an assessment of what our needs are and then we’ll be moving forward hopefully fairly quickly. I would venture to say hopefully within the next three to six months we’ll be making some agreements or reaching out with somebody and trying to put something in place. It’s a high priority and we want to move as fast as we possibly can.

Christian Gardner, Trustee 

Are you getting any pushback on any of these? The great support?

Jeff Herring, Chief Human Resources Officer 

Yeah, the support for everything that we’re trying to do in the Department of Public Safety has been unwavering and excellent, we have had no pushback whatsoever. As a matter of fact, we’re getting more than we’re asking for, which is outstanding, so thank you.

Phillip W. Clinger, Trustee 

I have a follow-up accountability question. The public has not been able to hear all these things that are happening. Conversations that I have with people—and I’m sure other trustees have—is that the university has not taken proper responsibility or proper accountability. What we’re hearing today is that there’s a lot going on, but how can you reassure us as trustees that this specific circumstance that happened in the McCluskey case, there has been proper accountability to those people specifically involved in that incident.

Ruth V. Watkins, President

Trustee Clinger, some have called for me to fire or remove certain individuals involved in Lauren’s case. I’ve had many private difficult conversations about the situation—about corrective actions and about our expectations moving forward. The actions that we have taken have been guided by my best judgment and by what I believe will ultimately make this a safer campus going forward—as safe a campus as we can ensure. I do not believe that it serves the ultimate mission of enhancing campus safety to fire anyone who acted in good faith and is capable and deeply committed to doing better. At the same time, I fully expect accountability and compliance with these actions as we move forward. Thank you.

Katie Eccles, Trustee 

We’ve talked a lot about training and working with staff and faculty. Can you build a little bit more on what we’re doing to educate and inform our students about dating violence and the warning signs and how to protect themselves and be on the alert and maybe expanding it out to other kinds of concerns, maybe online dating services and things of that sort?

Ruth V. Watkins, President

Thank you. I can speak similar to what Jeff mentioned in terms of a content management platform. I don’t know all of the technical terms for getting messages out to faculty and staff. We have actually, for the past two years, have been providing some online education tools for students. That is not the only type of tool that we have to convey a lot of this information, but it’s in real time and we provide it to all of our incoming students.

We have just upgraded our agreement with the company that provides those to also include some follow-up so that they will have incoming—when they first arrive and also then subsequently for future years that they’re here—we’re trying to actually get them to graduate though. This includes things on sexual assault prevention, bystander intervention tips, it does touch on alcohol and drug abuse prevention, as well as diversity, inclusion and respectful interactions. It’s very comprehensive in terms of how we talk about the standards in our community and what we hold each other to and how to help find resources and connections when there are problems, and so that is one tool that will be widely used.

Then our Center for Student Wellness—our health educators—have continued to, and are expanding, a lot of in-person trainings for student clubs and organizations, for our resident advisors and Housing & Residential Education for our student leaders. I know Connor has been through many that do include things like bystander intervention skills and touching on awareness topics like these for a lot of our students to be aware of. So many times, even when we surveyed them, they don’t believe that these things might happen to them, but we know that when things do happen, they’re telling one another before they tell us, and so we really are appealing to students to learn about these things—to be a really good friend and to be able to help our whole community. Thank you.

Connor Morgan, Student Body President

Sure. I guess I’d like to start with a brief comment, and that is, from my perspective as a student leader here, I would just like to express my deep appreciation to all of you and to the teams that you work within addressing all of these recommendations. I think that student leaders especially have been deeply involved in helping with some of these recommendations and in learning about these recommendations. We’ve had myriad opportunities to be involved, I’ll just list off a few things because I think it’s important for everyone to know how the students have been involved a little bit.

My presidency and I had been able to have nearly weekly meetings with both Lori and Barb to discuss some of these issues of campus safety. We have multiple students involved with the Campus Safety Task Force where we’re able to contribute to student perspective. As Vice President Snyder mentioned, there’s a Healthy Relationships Working Group that involves several students. We’re in early talks with the President’s Office and with some representatives from USHE in crafting a campus safety symposium, which will hopefully be later this semester, if not this summer or fall.

We have student participation in the hiring of the victim advocate in the Department of Public Safety, we’ve additionally been able to work with several entities within the Division of Student Affairs in order to increase funding for the University Counseling Center, the Women’s Resource Center and the Center for Student Wellness. I guess I’ll also say I appreciate Lori’s comment on working to increase collaboration and coordination and communication with students, and that’s something that obviously we hope to continue to be involved with.

I think through all of these interactions, most of the questions that I have had have been answered offline. One question I would like to follow-up on is Barb Remsburg said earlier that there would be some degree of safety retrofitting for older housing on campus in order to increase layers of security. I was just wondering if you could provide a little more depth on that topic.

Barb Snyder, Vice President for Student Affairs and Co-Chair of the Presidential Task Force on Campus Safety 

Currently, we have identified if you were to walk into one of our residence halls, currently, a student would swipe in order to gain access to the exterior and then they have a mechanical key that they would use to access either their apartment or their suite or their room. With a variety of housing, it’s going to depend. What we’ve identified and laid out in the plan and forwarded to the subcommittee would be to integrate the second layer, which would require an additional swipe.

If I were to swipe in from the exterior and let’s say, Connor, you were behind me, I didn’t really know you that you might follow me in to get through that exterior layer. But then before I swiped to either gain access to the elevators, stairwell or directly on the first floor to the residential wing, I might look behind me and be like, “Connor, I don’t know you.” I would swipe to get down into the residential wing and you would hang tight in the vestibule, I would then be directed to call one of our community desks to say, “There’s someone hanging out in the lobby of this building, could you please send staff or UPD to come check them out?”

Tom Richmond, President of the Academic Senate 

I have a daughter who’s a freshman—the first one of my four kids not to go to the University of Utah. She’s in Miami. The day she turned 18, she became an adult and the day when I moved her to Miami, she became really independent. We have this very unique situation where I can see in her this fierce independence that’s coming, and yet you’re within an ecosystem of a university—of an institution, whether it’s here or another university. How is student engagement going? I see how independent she is and maybe she’s more independent than many students and she’s only a freshman. She’s really independent and has her own ideas, but yet you’re living within the ecosystem of the university. How is the student engagement going with these campus safety recommendations in other programs?

Barb Remsburg, Director of Housing & Residential Education

Well, I could respond to that in regards to the Housing & Residential Education environment in that we’ve put a lot of responsibility on our resident advisors to help reach out to such students—those that both engage and attend, as well as others who might hang out in the room most of the time. So, in regard to connecting with students on all of these items, we have students on the committees within HRE on the task force, we’ve pushed information out to them, we’ve asked them for their input. In the January community meetings, we were at an average of about 93% reach-out rate, which if you think about looking at Tom, if you think about a class or getting 93% of students to a meeting to listen to what’s going on when it’s not mandatory, that is pretty high.

In regards to the outreach that is one of the items that RAs are asked to do. HREs do a program called UTalk where they have a set of questions each month and they go out, engage with students in those questions that they’ve been asking their residents for the months of January and February are really around the topics that I talked about earlier. All of that information is part of our debrief notes, which goes up to our team of supervisors. As far as we are not effective if we plan but we don’t engage if we’re not successful in reaching the students. They need to be able to tell us, and we need to hear and listen [to] how they’re going to engage our students, how they are taking that information and acting upon it. Within HRE, those are some of the elements that we’re doing in order to reach the residential population.

Barb Snyder, Vice President for Student Affairs and Co-Chair of the Presidential Task Force on Campus Safety

You ask a very important question. We are dealing with young adults who are in a new environment and learning to become adults and want to try out new things, and our role and our opportunity is to give them, within the context of a living environment, a learning environment, an academic program, a leadership opportunity. There’s pretty much an opportunity for anybody who wants to take advantage of it, and our role through orientation, learning communities as freshmen. If you look at what’s happening here relative to our retention and graduation rates, I think that’s a sign that engagement is happening and it’s our opportunity and obligation to make sure that’s available for every student.

David Parkin, Trustee 

With regard to all of these efforts, thank you. We’ll have over 25% turnover every year, and we don’t want this to ever be forgotten. How do we keep the engagement with students, faculty members and others of this community? This is in the forefront of their mind and that we’re training appropriately and educating and continuing this—that it’s not a one-time action-item situation, but it perpetuates in perpetuity for the safety of our students, faculty, and that parents know their children are safe.

Ruth V. Watkins, President

I was just going to speak to that exactly. It’s not just our campaigns that we’re doing right now, but that’s why we need policy, that’s why we need protocol and we need to make these ongoing annual efforts because our students are new every year, and as you mentioned, we have new faculty and staff, and our community visitors are constantly changing. I would suggest that this is part of our culture and that this is part of what we do. It’s intrinsic to what we need to do as administrators along with the infrastructure of things like policies, procedures, regulations, protocols.

Jeff Herring, Chief Human Resources Officer

Along those lines with students, also with faculty and staff, much of this has been incorporated into our new employee orientation. We’re also looking and working with Senior Vice President Reed in annual updates to that. I know we’re committed to ongoing efforts in senior administration from a top-down, as well as we’ve got a website out there with SafeU, to really try and institutionalize all of these efforts from a bottom-up [approach] as well. We’re really trying to make sure that this survives, not just the leaders that were involved and experienced the situation.

Jim Sorenson, Trustee 

I just wanted to commend you for steps that you’re taking. I know this is a really hard that it would be motivated by such a tragic incident and we live in really an evolving world that we have to try and be ahead of. I’d like to really understand, given everything that’s going on, really what the ultimate vision is for campus safety here at the University of Utah and where we would like to be or want to be in a year from now.

Ruth V. Watkins, President 

I would say of course we are a large public research university and we are very committed to that mission. That mission means we have many, many stakeholders: Students, faculty, staff, community, visitors and that’s a very important part of our identity. As I think about that—our aim—university leadership is to be the safest university we can possibly be. Our aim is to be a model for other universities, too, in our state, in our nation, and beyond—to really learn from this tragedy and to improve—not with the goal of being average, but really with the goal of excellence and innovation through greater awareness, through increased training, through education, through monitoring, through expanded partnerships, through integrating information and through new strategies.

Our commitment to enhancing safety on this campus is deep. It is everyone in this institution, everyone in terms of accountability and action for expectations going forward and really striving for that goal of and excellence in safety and enhancements of safety through our wide range of strategies and through full engagement of our communities. And as the point that was just previously made, not one-time events, not now, but as part of our institutional culture going forward. Thanks.

Tom Richmond, President of the Academic Senate

One other group that this has trickled down to is the faculty, and I think the faculty takes student wellness very seriously. Sometimes we don’t know what to do, and we can be trained better and learn to ask and reach out to do that, but this issue has come up within the Academic Senate in a lot of different ways in terms of student wellness and safety. Two weeks ago, the Academic Senate leaders were at a Pac-12 conference. This was the number one or two issue that was discussed, and I’m glad to hear from the group that they’re reaching out to our peers.

I should also report that our peers at Washington State have been very impressed with the response the university has made and that was just expressed by a number of faculty members that were there.

Ruth V. Watkins, President 

And if I might just comment on the faculty issue, we have experts in our faculty who work in areas related to domestic violence, to healthy relationships, to partner violence, and those individuals have really come forward in offering their services to help both on the Campus Safety Task Force and on the working group that Kwynn and Laura are co-chairing. One faculty member, professor Chris Linder is hosting a workshop, I believe it’s February 27—really by faculty for faculty—about recognizing signs of student distress, and I think that our faculty are very powerful to engage in this conversation and have a lot of reach with students. We’re pleased to be able to tell you about that, too. Thank you.

H. David Burton, Board of Trustees Chair

Thank you, Tom. Any further questions for this group? Let me just then express appreciation to you and a couple of issues. You have a list of all 30 of the recommendations here and the status of each of those. Call your attention if you have further questions in that regard, we would suggest that you refer to that. But we look forward to further reports in the future. This is the beginning of that status and so from an accountability and a transparency issue we will express appreciation and look forward to the next opportunity we have to receive a report. Thank you very, very much.