As part of continuing efforts to increase transparency and better evaluate resources, West Virginia University recently launched a new Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC) to partner with the University Police Department to meet the needs of its diverse campus community.
The committee will include students, faculty, staff and community members as a commitment to create and follow the best policies, training and practices to build an inclusive and equitable campus for all.
While seeking to foster a mutual understanding of University Police’s roles and services, the committee will work to serve as a communicator between University Police and the broader community.
According to Carrie Showalter, WVU's executive director for Student Conduct, the committee was born, in part, from feedback generated by students on campus who are invested in creating a better, safer campus atmosphere.
The PSAC plans to work with University Police and the broader community to further advance public safety, while also discussing public safety concerns from the campus community and review complaints.
Committee member Stefanie Hines, an assistant professor in the Davis College of Agriculture, first heard about the idea and formation of the Public Safety Advisory Committee last summer when she was part of the working groups formed by WVU President E. Gordon Gee.
According to Hines, the committee is part of the response to the student letter issued last summer.
“I am dedicated to diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice, and my goal is to help make WVU and the greater community a more inclusive and safer place for everyone so I am looking forward to being part of the work of this committee,” said Hines.
The committee plans to promote relationship building and public awareness between University Police and the campus community, and it will also be reviewing existing policies, procedures, training and materials to work on creating safe and inclusive strategies to better support the WVU community.
“Our first priorities include addressing the six items listed in [April 12's] announcement,” Hines said. “I believe this is an important step in the right direction as we bring students, faculty, staff and community members together to tackle these issues.”
Committee members have been appointed by Gee through a review process with input from various campus groups. Students will serve for one year while employees and community members will serve for two years. Individuals are eligible to be appointed up to three terms.
The committee, which evolved from recommendations issued by working groups organized last summer, will meet five times this year.
In addition to the work of the committee, University Police officers will begin to have a greater presence on the Morgantown campus to increase community policing efforts and meet more members of the campus community.
“I believe this is an opportunity to bring together students, faculty, staff and community members in new ways so we can share best policies, training, resources, support services and ideas to improve the ways we serve our campus community,” Showalter said.
Students and employees may begin to see more officers around campus in buildings and residence halls. These officers are available to answer questions, get to know students and employees better and provide assistance when needed.