Follow Up on Campus Safety

After I emailed my letter concerning campus safety to the office of President Broderick I received a fairly standard email in reply. They thanked me for my concern and assured me that my email would be forwarded to the proper administrator. At least I got a proper response, yet still I wondered if anyone had really taken it to heart.

Last week another student was shot just off campus. We received the standard ODU Alert, at 3 in the morning, shortly after it happened, and then yesterday we got the following follow-up email:

“Dear ODU Community:

“As many of you know, an ODU student was shot and seriously injured on Thursday, August 4, in what a witness described in media reports as an altercation among others gathering at a local nightspot near campus. I have since visited the student’s family as he remains hospitalized in critical but stable condition. It is now that the Monarch community needs to come together to show support for the student, his family, and each other. I understand that the Norfolk police now have a suspect in custody.

“While this crime did not happen on our campus or campus police concurrent jurisdiction, crime against any ODU or community member is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. This is a time for our University community to stand together to ensure a safe environment for all. Around campus and the concurrent jurisdiction, you can see significantly enhanced police patrols by both ODU and Norfolk police. The University has also spent more than $2 million in additional security measures in the past year.

“But, crime cannot be stopped by police presence alone. It takes our entire community — students, faculty, staff, neighbors, and the city — to create an environment where a criminal element cannot succeed.

“President Broderick has called on a group of administrators and students, with input from community leaders and others, to address some of the factors that contribute to such a safe environment. While we are still finalizing specifics, tactics will include an off-campus landlord safety program, greater community partnerships and programming, and a citizenship model for students, especially as it relates to our responsibilities as residents in local communities, among others.

“You will hear more about these initiatives in the coming weeks. In the interim, I invite you to contact me with your suggestions, ideas, or willingness to help. I also want to thank Student Government President Luis Ferreira and Student Representative to the Board of Visitors Greg Walsh, who have been working with us all summer, and I urge you to join them in these efforts. We must stand together for our campus and community to foster a climate of safety. The leadership of Old Dominion University is committed to a safe environment that fosters learning and cultivates the leaders of tomorrow.

“Sincerely,

“Dr. Ellen J. Neufeldt
Vice President for Student Engagement & Enrollment Services
Old Dominion University”

The tone of this email is much different than the last. While she does spend some time emphasizing the changes and effort ODU has made, her main focus seems to be to officially introduce the idea of community-building activities. In particular, note “greater community partnerships and programming, and a citizenship model for students, especially as it relates to our responsibilities as residents in local communities.” I hope this addresses my concern for increasing the civic-mindedness of the student body which I addressed in my email. I am happy that the administrators appear to have heeded my concerns (and, I’m sure, others’ as well).

I will be keeping close track of the changes ODU makes regarding campus safety. When I hear more about the new plans I will post more, highlight changes, and make comments and suggestions.

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