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Campus forum answers safety questions for students, faculty

October 25, 2018

In 2017, Dakota State University was ranked the safest college campus in South Dakota by the ADT Affiliate YourLocalSecurity.com, but that hasn’t stopped the administration, staff, and students from continuing to being proactive about campus safety.

Students and staff held an open dialogue about campus safety, answering questions regarding Title IX, night security, the need for on-call counselors, the salting of sidewalks, and more during an hour-long session October 4.

The American Association of University Women (AAUW) student chapter hosted the campus safety forum to open a line of communication between students, staff, administration, and faculty regarding campus safety.

Jack Thompson, diversity coordinator, Steve Bartel, assistant dean of student affairs, Angi Kappenman, vice president of human resources and Title IX coordinator, Corey Braskamp, director of facilities management, Heath Abraham, university safety resource officer, and Michelle Ruesink, director of student development, were available to answer questions submitted online or asked in person. The members of the panel answered questions that pertained to their areas of expertise.

Resources After an Off-campus Assault

Abraham explained that the basic legal process would take place, with law enforcement arriving at the incident and taking control from there. If it is a domestic violence incident, an arrest will be made, a no-contact order will be put into place, and counseling services will be made available to the victim. If the victim is a DSU student, they can also seek counseling on campus and take advantage of other resources available to students, such as counseling, class schedule adjustments and more, Kappenman added.

Night Security

Abraham and Jim Jacobsen, associate vice president for student affairs, hope to address night security with a campus watch program, which will be supported by the staff and faculty of DSU. “Campus watch will focus efforts on prevention of crime, assault, or other types of violence,” Abraham said. The program will employ students as watchmen to assist students, offer escorts, and complete security checks. The goal is to have the program running by spring 2019.

Sidewalk Safety

A question was asked about the salting of sidewalks on campus, something Braskamp was not aware it was an issue. Braskamp said employees put a lot of ice melt down in the winter. He requested that students or staff call the facilities office or send Braskamp an email if they see any issue.

This Q&A session helped open the line of communication between students, staff, and faculty and the safety resources available at Dakota State University. The session enabled students to have their voices heard and questions answered, and alerted administration to student needs and concerns, according to Nelofar Sultan, co-chair of the DSU student AAUW chapter.

“We hope to make it a once-a-semester type of event,” she said, “because a lot can change and does change every semester. Different questions and concerns come up that need to be addressed.”