Senate discusses student safety
Sarah Mervosh | Thursday, October 1, 2009
Student body president Grant Schmidt told members of Student Senate he plans to present to the University’s Board of Trustees on student safety off campus, and asked senators to share questions and concerns about the topic at the meeting Wednesday.
“We’ve gotten a lot of e-mails and people talk to us daily about this,” Schmidt said. “It’s been an issue for awhile.”
Schmidt said he leaned towards student safety off campus, because it is an issue that student government will not be able to tackle on its own.
Schmidt, along with student body vice president Cynthia Weber and chief of staff Ryan Brellenthin, will present to the student affairs division of the Board of Trustees in mid-October. It will be the first of three presentations this year.
“The direction that we’re planning on looking into is what is the role of the administration? What is the role of Notre Dame off campus? What is the role of student government?” Schmidt said.
Schmidt said he is most often asked if Notre Dame Security Police (NDSP) can go off campus. The considerations that accompany that request focus on jurisdiction, he said.
“Where would we want them? Would we want them just at Irish Row, and Irish Crossings? Would you want them in the Northeast neighborhood?” he said.
“The question also comes up, how would you have NDSP respond to something that wasn’t necessarily student related? Should they be responsible for protecting those people as well?” Schmidt said.
Pasquerilla East senator Taylor Ruby Gagan said she was concerned that if NDSP went off campus, more students would get in trouble for underage drinking.
“What would they be doing regarding students who are underage but who are at those off-campus locations? Is it going to be easier for students to get in trouble?” she said.
Schmidt said other questions that he has been asked include whether would Notre Dame ever provide off-campus housing and whether more pressure should be put on the South Bend Police Department (SBPD).
Crisiti Yanker of Lewis Hall said strengthening SBPD would be effective since they are already in the off-campus area.
“SBPD would be the best option, to put pressure on them because they are already in that area,” Yanker said. “Most incidents that I’ve heard of have been in that area of Notre Dame Avenue. Maybe we could get higher patrol of SBPD [in that area].”
Matthew Robinson of St. Edward’s Hall suggested allocating money to improve SBPD.
“Of that $5 million that we’re donating to the community, could we earmark some of it to uplift South Bend police force on Friday and Saturday nights?” he said.
Gagan also suggested increasing the number of telephones on campus for the blue light emergency.
Keough Hall senator Marc Anthony Rosa asked if there were funds to increase lighting in some of the darker off-campus areas to improve safety.
Schmidt said he would not answer the questions, but would take them into consideration for the presentation to the Board of Trustees.
Andrew Bell of Knott Hall said it was important to emphasize to the Board of Trustees that student government was doing all it could to improve off-campus safety.
“I think that it’s important when you approach the Board to emphasize what we’re doing and not just asking, asking, asking,” he said. “Like saying, this is really important to us and this is what we’re doing but we can’t do it on our own. We have to ask you as the Board to help us because we obviously can’t do it on our own.”