The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Wednesday February 8th

System rolls out security review

Leaders across the UNC system gathered Tuesday to launch a systemwide campus security review — an initiative that will zero in on student alcohol and drug use and sexual assault reporting.

The in-depth review comes amid nationwide debate on how best to address these issues on college campuses. UNC-system President Tom Ross said at the meeting that the comprehensive policy effort is important for all public universities in the state.

“(The initiative) will allow us to deal with difficult issues of being fair to everyone involved in these circumstances,” he said.

In an address to the members of the initiative, Abigail Boyer, assistant executive director of programs, outreach and communications at the Clery Center for Security on Campus, said incident response and prevention methods need to be revisited by campuses on a regular basis.

“New students come to your institutions every single year,” Boyer said. “The way that they respond, the way that they connect to the institution, the way that they access resources might change drastically.”

Boyer said what gives students the confidence to report problems is the knowledge that their report will be investigated thoroughly and they will be given fair treatment in the process.

Still, changes on campus made to encourage complete and confident incident reporting often lead to a rise in the crimes listed in annual security reports, Boyer said.

“When you’re proactive, the statistics will likely go up,” she said, adding that campus leaders need to discuss at the start of any initiative what outcomes are expected from any policy changes.

The members of the initiative split up into three work groups — responding to offenses against persons, campus public safety and security reporting and awareness.

UNC-CH student Nathan Tilley, chairman of the UNC-CH Honor Court and a member of the response group, said he hopes the group’s work will help campuses understand what is required and expected from the federal government in handling sexual assault cases.

He said students hope to have General Administration members give input and identify the best practices.

“We have federal guidelines and state guidelines that we are bound to comply with, which is great. We need to have some definitions for how to do that appropriately,” he said.

N.C. Agricultural & Technical State University Chancellor Harold Martin, co-chairman of the initiative, said members will aim to have a draft of their recommendations to Ross in April. Ross will then present the final report to the system Board of Governors.

In an interview in September, Ross said the campus security initiative was not solely driven by events at any particular campus.

“This is an issue that is a national concern — we just want to be out ahead of it, and I think we are,” he said. “I think we’re going to be on top of this, and our campuses will be better for it.”

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