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Learn about safety tips, available resources, and upcoming initiatives from the Student Safety Forum

Learn about safety tips, available resources, and upcoming initiatives from the Student Safety Forum

“Never be afraid to call us,” said Sergeant Tim Cunningham of Loyola’s Campus Safety Department. “Insignificant things can become significant very quickly.”

This was the underlying theme at the recent Safety Forum hosted by Student Government of Loyola Chicago (SGLC). Cunningham, Loyola’s student community liaison officer, opened the forum by reminding the more than 130 students in the room of the importance of responding to intuition when witnessing something out of the ordinary.

“We want to determine if something is nothing,” he explained. “We’d rather get a hundred calls about things that turn out to be nothing than miss one that turns into an emergency.”

Campus Safety was joined by representatives from the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), the Office of the Dean of Students, the Wellness Center, and Campus Transportation. Moderated by members of SGLC’s Safety and Wellness Committee, the event started with safety tips and trends and transitioned into an open forum for student questions.

“The students who came were clearly passionate about safety issues on campus,” said Sidney Joseph, chair of SGLC’s Safety and Wellness committee. “I really appreciated their questions. The students that maybe felt their questions were not answered thoroughly enough stayed afterward to discuss them more in depth.” 

Mike Kozlar, chief safety and security officer for the CTA, shared some step-by-step advice for boarding any form of public transportation in the city. He asked the audience a number of questions: Had they ridden a train or a bus that day? Which train or bus route were they on? What was its direction of travel? What was the train car or bus number they boarded? The last question stumped the audience, and he pointed out the importance of that information when reporting a crime or even in retrieving a lost phone.

Missing these small details underscored his point of always being aware of your surroundings, something Campus Safety also emphasized. Both units stressed staying off of mobile devices when walking down the street or riding the Red Line or bus. “Criminals are going to target the person who isn’t paying attention,” said Kozlar.

When asked about protocol for reporting something suspicious on a CTA ride, he advised attendees to: a) call 9-1-1 if it’s an emergency, b) let the bus driver know or alert the train conductor via the call buttons in each car, or c) if something is less imminent, e-mail feedback@chicagotransit.com. Additional safety tips can be found on the CTA website here.

On-campus safety
The conversation during the Safety Forum didn’t just focus on what students can do to stay safe in the city—speakers wanted to address what students can do on campus in any sort of emergency situation.

Sergeant Edward Mirabelli from Campus Safety presented some facts and tips on active shooter situations, advising that the best response is to run. A quick reference guide and video on the RUN. HIDE. FIGHT. response can be found here.

Several questions were asked about procedure when reporting an incident and when the University issues a crime alert. If a Loyola community member sees a suspicious person, Cunningham instructed that they first get somewhere safe, such as a campus building or nearby business. Per a request at the forum, the University is also discussing an option that would allow students access to the lobby area of all residence halls for them to seek refuge from a possible threat.

The next step is to call Campus Safety. The most important details to relay to the dispatcher are a precise location of the incident and description of the suspect(s), focusing on characteristics like facial features, hair color, and build. Once reported, an officer might also need to setup a time to talk about the incident in-person. More directives can be found here.

On the topic of crime alerts, Cunningham discussed the frequency of alerts and the importance of students reading them.   

As background, Campus Safety is guided by the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (Clery Act), but they also issue alerts for significant threats that occur outside the Clery Act requirements. When there is an imminent and serious threat to the safety of the University community, the Clery Act requires that Loyola issue timely warnings and take other measures to protect the University community. Campus Safety considers sending notifications for all crimes it has been made aware of. That decision-making process is done through the lens of campus community safety, Clery requirements, and Clery guidelines.

Students also voiced their opinions on what can be done to improve Campus Safety’s communications. One suggested following the lead of the Chicago Police Department and distributing community alerts on crime trends happening in certain areas. Another mentioned it would be useful to include more resources for survivors of crimes like sexual assault in the tips section of crime alerts.

Programs and initiatives
In addition to responding to emergency situations on campus, speakers reminded students about the programs and education opportunities available to them.

Mira Krivoshey, MPH, senior health educator, also shared a variety of gender-based violence resources, including the Loyola Sexual Assault Advocacy line, on-campus services within the Wellness Center, and Loyola’s Coordinated Community Response Team that includes constituents from her department, Residence Life, and the Office of the Dean of Students. She also answered questions on the Active Bystander and AlcoholEdu trainings that all first-year students are required to complete.

The center is also assembling a Student Wellness Center Group that will give students more of a say in programming. For more information or to join, reach out to Krivoshey at mkrivoshey@LUC.edu.  Additionally, Joseph mentioned that SGLC will be collaborating with the center in November on a "fish bowl" forum where students can anonymously submit written questions pertaining to mental and physical health.

Throughout the forum, Campus Safety referenced a variety of trainings offered to students living on and off campus. Cunningham encouraged students to attend a Hot Spots Tour designed to help identify real-world areas, behaviors, and characteristics that are generally unsafe and require heightened awareness.

SGLC and Campus Safety will also be co-hosting a community walk at the end of October. Joseph described it as an opportunity for students to walk with campus police officers and discuss where they feel unsafe, talk about blue lights, and listen to advice. More information on this and the Wellness Center event will be communicated in the coming weeks.