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Addressing Personal Safety Issues on Alumni Quad and Downtown Campus

by Amy Tucker (November 22, 2005)

Safety at Alumni Quad and around the downtown area has become a concern for many, though the number of criminal incidents reported by the Albany Police Department (APD) involving UAlbany students for 2005 is down from both 2004 and 2003.

The University is responding to these concerns in many ways. In addition to the improvement of lighting and visibility downtown, students requested and were granted 24-hour "swipe card" accessibility to permit access to their halls by cutting through Alumni Quad buildings. A Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) training course is also being offered to women of Alumni Quad and students living downtown.

Student safety is always a top priority. The University Police Department (UPD) and APD maintain open and ongoing communication regarding criminal incidents and investigations and work together to resolve issues involving student safety in the Albany community.

Many steps have been taken to improve campus safety:

  • In the last several months, the University has increased police and security presence and patrols in the downtown campus and Alumni Quad areas. The College of Saint Rose (CSR) Security will be moving its operations to the Neighborhood Security Center (on the corner of Partridge and Western) in January. And, the UPD and Committee on University & Community Relations are preparing to have regular safety programs and meetings in the center.

  • The University and UPD encourage students to voice their safety concerns and work collaboratively with students, APD, area colleges, city officials and the community to be responsive to their needs and recommendations. Lighting and safety surveys have resulted in: improvements around entrances and parking lots; cutting back trees and shrubs for greater visibility; moving garbage disposals closer to buildings for nighttime trash removal; and researching the feasibility of installing surveillance cameras on Alumni Quad.

  • Several initiatives are in place to keep students informed about criminal incidents and preventive tips. Safety alerts occur via e-mail blasts, letters to the editor of the student newspaper, targeted residence hall letters, literature, and a table at the annual UAlbany Health and Safety Fair, as well as periodic campus safety meetings to address issues and concerns. The Campus Community Crime Prevention Coalition involves the sharing of all serious incidents with students via safety alerts.

  • A great majority of the safety improvements and recommendations have come from the students themselves. In order for the University's Advisory Committee on Campus Safety to be successful in reducing crimes against and involving students, increased student and community awareness of crime and crime prevention is essential. The University is aggressively promoting personal safety programs and engaging students and the community to take an active role in both prevention and reporting of incidents.

  • Students and the University would like to re-establish a "Neighborhood Watch" program in the Pine Hills area. This is a student volunteer program organized by APD, UPD, and CSR Safety and Security. The success of this program involves organizing a core group of students who remain committed to the safety of other students, and who will provide ongoing recruiting and training. An upcoming Voice of the Student panel discussion on safety issues is expected to produce other ideas that can strengthen and complement UAlbany's safety initiatives.

  • The University, APD, UPD, and CSR have a 15-year partnership in the Committee on University & Community Relations to improve safety off campus. They distribute more than 3,000 safety brochures and door tags annually to off-campus students and the community, meet with sororities and fraternities regarding safety and anti-burglary tips, and participate in door-to-door safety walks and talks with students and residents in the Pine Hills area, where local media have been invited and accompanied or interviewed Tom Gebhardt, director of Personal Safety and Off-Campus Affairs, or President Kermit L. Hall some 10 times this semester alone.

  • In addition to engaging students, participation from residents in the community is essential to protecting students and keeping their neighborhoods safe. UPD and APD hold an annual meeting with local tavern owners and off-premise retailers to discuss street crime, share information, and conduct prevention surveys and door-to-door interventions. The University, CSR, UPD, and APD seek to involve local business and downtown landowners in investing monetarily and personally in downtown campus safety initiatives. One such initiative the students want explored is the implementation of a "Safe Ride" program to transport students from downtown to uptown after buses stop running.

  • Since 1993, UAlbany has distributed 29,000 whistles to students, staff, faculty, and community members in the Pine Hills area as part of the "Whistle Watch" Safety Program. The whistle's distinctive sound alerts passers-by to contact 911 in the event of an emergency. Saint Rose, Albany Medical College, Albany Law School, and Albany Medical Center are also participating. The Albany Disabled Alert Program (ADAP) was initiated for individuals who are physically challenged and can't blow the whistles. They are given an adapted pin with a shrieking alarm that can be easily triggered in the event of an emergency.


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