Every day, student affairs professionals face difficult decisions about how to respond to serious problems related to sexual violence, mental health, alcohol and drug use, missing students, Title IX compliance and the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), campus public safety, threat assessment, emergency management, and more. They rely on well-formulated processes and procedures to help them make sound choices when dealing with these concerns.
However, the way we react to challenging issues is only one part of the equation. All these components must be considered—and carefully evaluated—in order to ensure a successful interdisciplinary model of campus safety.
Assessing your campus safety approach
Efforts to maintain the balance of community safety and student support will always be ongoing, as the task of creating a safe campus is never complete. This is why it is essential for faculty and staff to assess process evaluation on a regular basis and look for areas needing improvement.
Consider taking the following steps when planning ahead for 2016.
1. Weigh the pros and cons of team responses from the past year.
Take some time to review the responses executed by staff and faculty in 2015. Look at what went well and what could be done differently. Assess your organization’s planning and training functions. Were they effective? How would you score the level of capabilities reached by staff? Are policy objectives still clear? It’s important to put some benchmarks and measurements in place so you can assess results and identify changes to be made to plans for the future.
2. Consider areas for refinement and improvement.
After reviewing the effectiveness of your policies and processes over the past year, consider your plan for improvement. What changes can be made to advance future actions and interventions? Once you have pinpointed necessary changes, look to put a plan in place for achieving these goals.
3. Review key legal and ethical issues affecting team operation.
Legal and ethical issues evolve over time, meaning regular review and ongoing education are essential. For example, maintaining campus safety becomes especially challenging when it requires taking action against a student. Does your school have policies in place when dealing with students of concern? Keep in mind that the Office of Civil Rights recommends a true case-by-case evaluation to determine appropriate courses of action, making any “zero tolerance” policies legally vulnerable.
4. Assess outreach communication efforts.
How effective have your communication efforts been in the past? Speak with key stakeholders and ask them for feedback. Do they feel they have been kept informed and involved in the work being done to keep the campus safe? How will you be communicating future plans?
5. Reinforce responsibility among staff.
Remind your team that responsibility for campus safety belongs to everyone, and ensure all stakeholders understand their role in developing and maintaining a supportive and proactive campus culture. Objectives for the year ahead must be clearly outlined in order to ensure critical tasks performed by participants remain consistent with the goals of the organization.
6. Seek out opportunities for further education.
As mentioned, ensuring campus safety is an ongoing effort and must be treated accordingly. This means staying up to date on the latest training and supporting staff in continuing education.
Our new Title IX and VAWA Training for Staff online course is designed to ensure convenient, self-paced learning. While this course is specific to one of the many components of campus safety, it will give you confidence that your entire college staff will be trained on Title IX and VAWA federal mandates.
The task of creating a safe campus is never complete—what works today may not necessarily be what works next month, or next year. As student populations and expectations continue to change, environmental issues and norms also evolve, increasing the responsibility for creating a safe, healthy, and equitable campus culture.
Do you have any ideas to add? How will you be evaluating your campus safety policies and processes? Leave us a comment sharing some of your campus goals for the coming year and the steps you are putting in place to achieve them.