Taking the next step in campus safety
Monday, February 2, 2015 4:26 PM
Life on a university campus can be invigorating, given the hopeful, energetic atmosphere, but it carries certain responsibilities as well. On March 3 and 4, Colorado Mesa University faculty and staff have the opportunity to learn more about the issues that affect campus community during a three-part in-service training. The institution has regularly organized an annual campus-wide safety training and this year’s will be more extensive than ever before.
“I think it’s the natural next step in what has been a five or six year progression of continuous improvement in campus safety,” said John Marshall, Vice President of Student Services. “We do this all the time in the context of the academic world. We’re constantly evaluating and improving what we’re doing. With campus safety, it’s the same philosophy. We look at what we did last year and we try to improve upon it.”
This March, participants will attend three, 75-minute training sessions covering campus safety and active threat response; suicide prevention efforts; and sexual assault prevention efforts, sexual harassment, mandatory reporting and related resources.
As in years past, the active threat response training will be led by John Nicoletti, PhD, a nationally renowned security and crisis management expert. He will be joined by Grand Junction Police Sgt. Stan Ancell and Student Conduct Coordinator Skip Banks.
New this year is suicide prevention training, a high-level overview of the challenge and the tools available, including CMU’s step-by-step Suicide Intervention Protocol. The session will be led by psychology professor Susan Becker, PhD, and Danny Sandoval, Director of Diversity, Advocacy and Health.
“Our campus in particular has been profoundly impacted by suicide,” Marshall said. “We’ve heard time and again from faculty that they want to do more. They want to know the right things to say and ask when they see a student not doing well. This is our attempt to directly provide tools and experiences for faculty and staff to support our students and each other, for that matter … The hope is that we can just really hit an issue that affects us all.”
The sexual assault and harassment prevention training, also new this year, will be led by Marshall; Barbara Case King, Director of Human Resources; and Suzette Friedenberger, a Grand Junction police officer specially trained in sexual assault prevention.
Marshall said that CMU’s take on this training will differ from similar conversations across the country because the university has made the issue a priority over the past five years. “When the White House came out with their five key recommendations [for preventing sexual assault on college campuses], we were already there or well down the track on all of them,” he said. “Now we’re taking what has been a relatively small group on campus that has been really focused on this, conversant in this issue and working hard on it, and growing that to a much broader population of people who are trained as advocates for students or who can point people to the right support services.”
CMU has also arranged follow-up training for those interested in an in-depth understanding of each of the topics. Soon after the workshops, an intensive, hands-on Attack Countermeasures Training certification will be available to a limited number of people. In cooperation with the Western Colorado Suicide Prevention Foundation, CMU is conducting an Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) on March 23 and 24. Following the sexual assault prevention in-service, interested faculty and staff may volunteer with campus’ Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) or help support related student groups.
To Marshall, the in-services are indicative of the unique nature of a job in higher education. “This is a recognition that our professional obligation doesn’t simply stop at being proficient in our respective areas,” he said. “We have an obligation to our students to understand some of the issues that are facing [them] outside of the classroom. I think we all have a professional obligation to be aware of it and of some of the basic tools we can use to support our students and each other, regarding some very real and very serious issues.”
Dana Nunn, Director of Media Relations