Campus Safety May Introduce Text Message Reporting

Students may soon be able to text Claremont University Consortium (CUC) Campus Safety officers to report incidents or receive assistance.

The initiative has been spearheaded by Associated Students of Pomona College (ASPC) Commissioner of Off-Campus Relations Hsuanwei Fan PO ’12 and Vice-President for Finance Kelly Schwartz PO ’10.

Fan proposed the idea at a Senate meeting several months ago, and he said the rest of the senate responded well.

He began to consider the possible benefits this service could offer after an experience he had walking to the Smith Campus Center late at night. He happened to notice two people he did not recognize walk out of the parking lot between Rains and Bridges Auditorium. The people then began to stuff empty beer cans into bushes and shrubs around Marston Quad as they made their way toward South Campus.

“I followed them and thought about reporting the suspicious behavior to campus safety, but realized that perhaps pulling out my phone and chatting away was probably not the best idea since I was walking behind them all alone on a dark weeknight through the quad,” Fan said. “Then I started to consider all the other situations in which it would be useful for students to have a more surreptitious way to report suspicious or illegal activities on the 5-C campuses.”

Schwartz said she believes the service could benefit students in a number of ways.

“First, students may sometimes find themselves in a situation where having to call and verbally explain the situation to a campus safety officer might be unsafe,” she said.“Second, I think many students don’t report incidents to Campus Safety because they do not want to have to be identified.”

Fan said the simple problem of poor cell phone service could possibly hinder students from contacting Campus Safety.

“Certain cell phone service companies have [a] very weak signal and often cannot sustain a phone call for more than 30 seconds while still allowing the sending and receiving of text messages,” he said.

Schwartz said she hopes the service will improve the relationship between students and Campus Safety.

“I get the impression that students do not have much faith in Campus Safety’s effectiveness or timeliness,” Schwartz said. “Perhaps a texting service could help inform Campus Safety more efficiently of incidents and get them to a situation faster.”

Fan said he hoped 5-C students would be “mature enough” to avoid abusing this new service once it is offered.

The project is still in its early stages. Fan and Schwartz have not yet discussed the texting service with Campus Safety, largely because the department has been undergoing leadership changes. However, they said Associate Dean of Students and Dean of Campus Life Ric Townes was supportive of the idea, and, now that a new Director of Campus Safety has been hired, the proposal can be further pursued.

Schwartz said the logistics of the program will need to be discussed, including how these texts would be received and sorted by Campus Safety personnel and whether students would receive some type of notification of message delivery to Campus Safety.

However, Fan said he hoped the proposal could be instituted within the next few weeks.

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