Campus Safety implements advisory committee

Olivia Jacobs

A university-sponsored sign located outside of Memorial Center and the Office of Campus Safety.
Photo: Samira Kassem

Campus Safety recently recruited IWU students as part of a newly-founded ‘safety advisory committee’ to help brainstorm ways to increase safety measures on campus. 

The committee was founded during the Spring 2021 semester and consists entirely of students. It is overseen by Mark Welker, Director of Campus Safety and now Safety Advisory Committee Chair.  The committee currently has eight students including seniors Emily Schirmacher and Anna Schultz-Breef. 

“We want to help bridge the gap between students and campus safety. We want to create an environment where students feel comfortable voicing their opinions and concerns,” Schirmacher said.

Schirmacher also said that there are often a lot of rumors on campus that aren’t necessarily true and students on the committee want to help dissolve those rumors with transparency.

“Our primary goal is to make sure the students have a voice in what they experience and what they observe, create more awareness and get our message out,” Welker said. 

Schultz-Breef believes that this is a new era on campus as Illinois Wesleyan has never had students involved with Campus Safety like this before. 

“The old Campus Safety officers were less than favorable in responding to student complaints, but I’ve had nothing but lovely interactions with the new team which is a huge relief,” Schultz-Breef said. IWU transitioned to its current Campus Safety team in the Fall of 2019. 

Schultz-Breef said that with the recent surge of police brutality in the last year, she wants students to remember that Campus Safety officers are not police officers but instead they are a security team. 

“They are also human,” Schultz-Breef said. 

 She wants all students to feel safe and be able to put their trust in Campus Safety as students are the body they are protecting.  

Campus Safety usually performs a safety walk once a year in the fall to assess campus needs including what areas feel safe and what areas do not. Instead of having only officers perform this task, students are now able to give their thoughts on how to improve. There will now also be a Spring safety walk that will take place for the first time this semester. 

“We’ve never had an outlet like this before which is really nice. We’re like the eyes and ears of campus as there’s really no way they [Campus Safety] can see everything,” Schirmacher said. 

Welker said everything is on the table, but unfortunately Campus Safety is unable to illuminate the entire campus with appropriate lighting and is mainly focused on critical areas, pathways and trip hazards.

Campus is primarily lit by lamp posts at night, which do little to illuminate the walk home.
Photo: Katie Fata

Since Campus Safety established this committee, improvements have already been made. For example, recent security alerts have already resulted in several tips from students getting involved as a result.  

 Campus Safety has also received many complaints in the past year about the emergency phone towers–which are tested routinely once a month– not working properly. After students were able to give their input, the phone towers are now checked every two weeks and checks could potentially increase to every week.

“We can’t fix anything if we don’t know about it. If students see something that’s not right they should contact someone and let them know. Take responsibility so the problem can get fixed,” Schultz-Breef said. 

As Schirmacher and Schultz-Breef are both graduating in May, their goal is to create the building blocks for the committee to be a permanent change to campus. Since the committee is not an RSO, they don’t need to petition for funding in order to keep going and are working directly with faculty and staff.

Schultz-Breef said as long as the administration wants the committee, it will keep going. She doesn’t see the passion and drive going away any time soon.

 “If I didn’t think it was going to be a sustainable change, I wouldn’t have been a part of it. I hope I can come back in 10 years and it will still be here,” Schultz-Breef said. 

Schirmacher and Schultz-Breef both want to encourage more students to get involved as the committee is always looking for more voices or “eyes and ears.” Students who are interested in getting involved with the safety advisory committee should contact Mark Welker at [email protected].