Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Monday, December 18, 2017

'We have a presence everywhere': Administrators address campus security

Public Safety head says police have upped visibility on quad

'We have a presence everywhere': Administrators address campus security

The new Public Safety building on East Campus. 

The Office of Campus Life and AU Police hosted a community meeting on Nov. 1 in the Perch. Students at the meeting made it clear they want more direct communication from AU regarding security.

The meeting was advertised as an opportunity for students to voice suggestions they have for improving campus security. The discussion was led by Vice President of Campus Life Fanta Aw, Public Safety head Philip Morse and Dan Nichols, who serves as the executive director of risk, safety and transportation programs.

Aw opened the meeting by specifying what measures AU security was not open to taking.

“One of the things that is not on the table for consideration is building gates to the doors at American University and have people being ID'd,” Aw said.

Nichols said the Anti-Defamation League had talked with AU administrators over the summer and informed them that white supremacist organizations, like the one that targeted AU with the confederate flag incident, want the campus to believe that they have a presence.

“The other thing they’re trying to do is to give the impression that they’re already here,” Nichols said.

When talking about updated campus security measures, Morse stressed that the University now has more information at its disposal related to possible criminal offenses.

“We have a network of both local as well as international information [on] domestic and international terrorism,” Morse said. “We’re very connected and we stay on top of what’s going on.”

Morse acknowledge that there have been more night patrols spotted on campus since Confederate flags were discovered on campus in September.

“What we have done is ensured that we have visibility out there on the quad. I think you’ve seen that,” Morse said.

Morse said there is an officer assigned to the quad 24 hours a day to “look for any type of suspicious activity or criminal activity” so that the University can act.

“That is something that is going to continue, especially in the evenings and during the midnight hours and early morning,” Morse said. ”We have a presence everywhere.”

A student at the meeting asked about policy regarding the doors in SIS during the later hours of the day. The student pointed out that while the doors locked from the inside at certain hours of the night, other students can let people into the building regardless of whether or not they know who they are.

Nichols said the locked door policy is not going to be “100 percent effective” every time.

“This is not a panacea, this is not a cure-all. There isn’t one,” Nichols said.

All administrators present emphatically stated that the escort service provided through the RAVE guardian application is free to students. This statement was given in response to a student asking a question about the walk from main campus to the Berkshire apartments after dark, and incorrectly claiming that the escort service was not free.

Aw said that the increased security measures may be an inconvenience, but she hopes it will set a precedent for future students.

“Know that those who will come after us will not have learned anything different,” Aw said. “They will have seen this as just the way things are.”

bfoster@theeagleonline.com


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