Throughout higher education, concerns about sexual assault and other violent crimes, campus security, and crime reporting have become topics of a national conversation. Our own campus leaders, students, and staff are taking part in that conversation, and they are working to raise awareness of and help address the threat posed to the educational community by sexual assault and other violent crimes.
We know, of course, that it is beyond our power to completely insulate the campus community from the violence that exists in our society, particularly while preserving our historic commitment to access and openness. Federal data show that the overall crime rate for University of North Carolina campuses is significantly below the statewide crime rate, and suggest that the vast majority of University of North Carolina students will not become the victim of a violent crime while enrolled as a student on a University of North Carolina campus. Still, if the University of North Carolina is to effectively carry out its three-part mission of teaching, research, and service, we must do everything feasible to promote a safe environment on our campuses and ensure that the rights of individuals are respected.
The University of North Carolina seeks to be a leader among higher education institutions in understanding and implementing the best methods and practices for responding to offenses against persons and ensuring that campus law enforcement operations function in accordance with well-designed policies and procedures that provide safe and secure campus environments, result in appropriate responses to crime, and enhance campus security. We are committed to becoming an exemplar among higher education institutions for keeping our campus communities informed about crime and security concerns.
President Thomas Ross announced the University’s establishment of the Campus Security Initiative in June 2013. Members participating in the UNC Campus Security Initiative will be assigned to one of three work groups, which will focus on the following:
- Responding to Offenses Against Persons: The Responding to Offenses Against Persons work group will focus on the campus and system-level policies, procedures, and practices for responding to and addressing offenses against persons, with particular attention to sexual harassment and other offenses involving students and compliance with Title IX requirements.
- Campus Public Safety: The Campus Public Safety work group will address the functions and procedures of campus police departments and campus public safety operations. The group will review procedures relating to the criminal investigative function, including receipt of reports and initial responses, collection, and safeguarding of evidence, presentation to prosecuting authorities, and treatment of crime victims. The work group will also address relations with the campus community and local law enforcement, needs for education and training, and resources needed by campuses to maintain highly effective law enforcement functions.
- Security Reporting and Awareness: The Security Reporting and Awareness work group will focus on campus- and system-level policies, procedures, and practices for ensuring accurate and timely reporting of campus crime and security information, with particular focus on compliance with federal Clery Act requirements.
An advisory panel of subject-matter experts will also provide advice and information to the work groups.
Each work group is charged with evaluating current policies, reporting data, procedures, and practices on our campuses and at the system level. The work groups will then develop recommendations for system-level policies, regulations, guidelines, practices, compliance measures, tools, training, and procedures that, when implemented, will result in the most consistent and effective responses and awareness across each campus in the work group’s area of focus. The Campus Security Initiative will present recommendations to President Ross in the form of a single, written report in the spring of 2014.
Chancellor Randy Woodson, North Carolina State University, and Chancellor Harold Martin, North Carolina A&T State University, are co-chairs of the Campus Security Initiative.