Daily check-ins with local law enforcement, increased diversity in hiring and approving a position for interpersonal and sexual violence prevention are some of the steps to improve campus safety that Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz highlighted in a response sent earlier this month to the Campus Safety Commission.
“I hope you’ll find that, because of the passion and priorities of this Commission, we are truly moving the needle,” he wrote in a cover letter to the response. “Together we will continue to improve campus climate and culture around campus safety and build trust between our campus police and the campus community.”
Guskiewicz established the Campus Safety Commission in May 2019 after a series of anti-racist protests about the Confederate Monument known as Silent Sam and responses to the protests drew attention to the links between race-related issues and campus safety.
The 20 members of the safety commission are students, staff, faculty and community members. The group held a series of listening sessions, hosted a “Summit on Safety and Belonging” and presented its first annual report and recommendations for action to the Chancellor in June 2020.
They grouped the 27 recommendations in five categories: policing, sexual violence and danger, communication of notifications, public safety and anti-racism activism. Recommendations included:
- Establishing civilian oversight of UNC Police;
- Making UNC police records public and accessible;
- Revising or abolishing the Honor Court;
- Adding four full-time employees for programs and training around sexual assault prevention and awareness;
- Improving psychological services for people dealing with racism;
- Increasing diversity in faculty, staff and administrative positions; and
- Memorializing contributions people of color have made to campus.
Guskiewicz addressed each recommendation separately in his response. The response describes actions the University has already taken, actions it plans to take, actions delayed because of the pandemic and actions it can’t take. For example, state law doesn’t allow civilian oversight of UNC Police that includes investigatory powers, something the Commission had recommended.
In his response, Guskiewicz included initiatives from across the University:
- Approving the position of senior prevention strategy officer for interpersonal and sexual violence prevention;
- Agreeing to expand SafeWalk operation hours to the weekend, pending funding approval, when campus operations return to normal;
- Posting more signs about the prohibition of firearms on campus;
- Starting daily check-ins with surrounding law enforcement agencies to improve communication on campus about off-campus crimes;
- Adding four Black, Indigenous or people of color counselors in Counseling and Psychological Services;
- Elevating the chief diversity officer to a vice provost position;
- Launching the Race, Racism and Racial Equity (R3) Symposium to highlight University research on these topics;
- Announcing the Provost’s Academic Leadership Advancement Program for Underrepresented Faculty;
- Hiring the first vice chancellor for institutional integrity and risk management;
- Adding two faculty positions each year for the next two years to the Carolina Postdoctoral Program for Faculty Diversity; and
- Lifting the 16-year moratorium on renaming buildings and removing the names of four white supremacists (Charles Brantley Aycock, Julian Shakespeare Carr, Josephus Daniels and Thomas Ruffin Sr.) from buildings on campus.
The safety commission will meet virtually at 9 a.m. on Nov. 4, with public access through a link to a YouTube livestream.