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Off-campus safety to be discussed with Trustees

Ann-Marie Woods | Wednesday, September 30, 2009

With the increase in off-campus burglary, theft and assaults in recent weeks, the Council of Representatives (COR) proposed off-campus safety as a possible topic for student government’s first meeting of the year with the University Board of Trustees.

“We want to address the things most relevant to students,” student body President Grant Schmidt said. “This is a great opportunity for us to go before the Board of Trustees with our issues.”

As a means of collaboration between students and the University administration and Board, the student body president, vice president and chief of staff present to the student affairs committee of the Board of Trustees three times a year to address the most pressing student issues and work in partnership with the University to create change.

COR members agreed that off campus safety is the most relevant and imperative concern for the student body at this time.

“It is an important subject to all of us, especially as more people are being affected by it,” Schmidt said.

Schmidt initiated the discussion by asking COR members whether or not they felt it is the University’s responsibility to be looking out for students off campus.

COR was in agreement that students are feeling specifically targeted when they are off campus, regardless of whether or not they live off campus. Because of this, members concurred that the University needs to play an important role in protecting and keeping students safe off campus.

The impending Transpo initiative will be a successful solution to many off campus transportation problems, offering a shuttle service for students to get to and from campus, as well as around the South Bend area, Schmidt said. While still in its final planning stages, the Transpo initiative will help prevent many of the assaults taking place off campus, Schmidt explained.

However, this new form of transportation does not solve the problem of burglary and property damage, a crucial aspect of off campus safety, COR member Chris Tillet said.

Increased communication between the University and the community as well as the use of Notre Dame Security Police for off campus patrolling were offered as initial suggestions for improving safety.

Repainted crosswalks and new yellow arrow signs are recent initiatives for increasing safety at the intersection of Tywckenham Dr. and Vaness St. There is a strong likelihood that a flashing light will be put in at this high traffic area to increase pedestrian safety, Schmidt said.

Schmidt along with Vice President Cynthia Weber and Chief of Staff Ryan Brellenthin will continue to work with Denise Baron, representative for the Committee on Community Relations, and COR members to construct tangible proposals for off campus safety solutions to present to the Board of Trustees.

In the meantime, Schmidt encouraged students to present their ideas to the appropriate representatives, and said student government is open to suggestions as they create a proposal for the University Board.

“It is a consensus that [off campus safety] is something we would like the University to take action on,” Schmidt said. “We want to let people know we are having discussions [about this issue].”

In other COR news:

u Through the COR Collaboration Appeal, University and student groups have the opportunity to collaborate on funding for projects or initiatives.

COR approved $1200 in funding for a fall break service trip to New Orleans to assist the Gulf Coast Action League, Lewis Hall, O’Neill Hall and the Center for Social Concerns as they travel to the hurricane-devastated area to work with Operation Helping Hands.