Campus Public Safety at SOU – Keeping Students Safe

With winter days being shorter and colder, students are finding they have to walk home from class in the dark. It’s easy to understand why some students might feel uneasy traversing campus in the dark, especially for those students far from home for the first time. To talk about safety measures and precautions to take during the winter months, The Siskiyou interviewed Robert Gibson, the acting director of Campus Public Safety, and student employee Grace Luckenbill. 

Campus Public Safety provides more services than busting students violating guidelines or handing out parking tickets; they are there to keep students safe. Sergeant Gibson gave The Siskiyou a few scenarios on how a student could get help if they were in a position where they felt uncomfortable on campus. If a student is working late or has a late class and do not feel safe walking back to their home, they can call CPS and get an escort back to their apartment or dormitory. The only restriction that comes with this service is that both point A and B must be on campus. CPS can not escort someone to their home if it is not a student apartment or dorm. To request an escort, students can call the CPS dispatch at (541) 552-6911. When students call that number, they will be greeted with a phone tree, but then can ask for an escort to be on the way. The automatic greeter is due to low staffing at CPS, but they will be there to help when students need it. 

CPS does not have a large staff; all active staff are male-identifying, so requesting an officer of a certain gender is not available. If a student does not feel safe with a certain officer, Sergeant Gibson says to let them know because they want their officers to promote and create a safe environment for all students. 

Additionally, CPS offers the blue light system, an emergency call system for a situation where someone is being chased or followed. These stations are provided on campus, and can be identified by looking for a large, cylindrical pole with a glowing blue light on the top. Previously, this system could be used to call 26911 to contact dispatch, pre cellphone era. Students can find a blue light, press the button, and immediately call 911 in order to explain their emergency. If a student uses one while being chased, Sergeant Gibson urges students to try to find one in an open area so they can be seen by other people. The purpose of the blue light is emergency only, and CPS asks that students not use them for unlocking doors or other non-emergency scenarios as it is a waste of resources. To find the closest blue light phone, students can use this campus map.

While their specific area of concern is campus, CPS does have some authority off campus as well. They have the ability to write citations for municipal code violations like minor in possession of marijuana or alcohol, or any small public displays of violations- power which they have gained from the local judge. CPS is also partnered with the Ashland Police Department, and it is not uncommon for students to see CPS backing up the APD officers at a scene around 7-11. They help each other regularly on calls. 

CPS is not a sworn agency, but they are also not just security officers either, they fall somewhere inbetween. They have probable-cause arrest authority as well as warrant arrest authority, but they do not carry guns or tasers. However, officers do carry batons and pepper spray. While they are primarily focused on campus, they have the authority to keep campus safe from those who come on campus that are not students or faculty. 

CPS is even more than physically keeping students safe- they also answer many calls from students with mental health issues or suicidal tendencies, which they can help with. They get calls for theft as well, whether it be bikes outside or technology left in the library. Sergeant Gibson stresses to keep your valuables on you at all times, even when going to the bathroom or into a study room. “If you can’t lock it up or secure it, take it with you,” says Gibson. 

Another campus value CPS is trying to stress on students both new and old is “see something, say something”. CPS can not do anything about what they are not aware of. Even if a potential dangerous situation turns out to be nothing of concern, call it in if it looks suspicious. CPS need to be able to address the incident at the time it is happening, as later calls inhibit their ability to help the situation. Whether it is outside or in the dorms, CPS has the authority to help, but they are not able to help if it is hours later. No matter how small or insignificant the event may seem, call it in- it could be something worse. 

When it comes to general precautions to take on campus, The Siskiyou asked student worker Grace Luckenbill for her input. Grace suggests “not walking alone, walking in lighted areas, carrying your phone with you at all times, and staying on school property because CPS is able to help,” she concludes. If someone is potential danger sees a student worker on duty ,they can stay with a worker like Grace until CPS is able to arrive. 

CPS is here to help- don’t be afraid to ask for help and report anything you see. Stay safe this term, Raiders!

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