Chancellor Edwards Discusses Student Security
by Tejal Sarbaugh
Chancellor Richard Edwards addressed student security and safety concerns during an open forum on Sept. 30 in the College Ave Atrium Conference Room.
Chancellor Richard Edwards stated that the Rutgers University Police Department and the New Brunswick Police Department have joined forces in order to increase the surveillance both on and off campus. Additionally, both departments are planning to install new crosswalk devices at dangerous intersections and potentially more cameras for off-campus areas where the student population is heavy. Edwards emphasized that Rutgers must work with the city and state councils for some of these issues, and therefore it may take some time to acquire and implement the new security devices.
He states the aim of many of these security changes was to “make the experience of student life off campus better.”
According to Edwards, a group of landlords, security officers and the Student Affairs staff visited Ohio State University (OSU) in early Spring 2015 for consultation on how Rutgers can better protect students. He explained that Columbus, Ohio is similar to New Brunswick in terms of lay out, and OSU has had similar crime issues. In the past year, OSU has developed new security measures, which Rutgers would like to adapt. “They are in a similar situation,” Edwards said. “They are modeling what we should have.”
While the chancellor did not attend this consultation in the spring, he did participate in a two-day workshop that Rutgers hosted with Ohio State University concerning the safety of students in New Brunswick.
Alexis Biedermann, senior executive associate to the chancellor, stated that, in response to the advice, incoming students would be equipped with tools for better security. “Anyone who registers off campus is given a safety kit,” she said.
Chancellor Edwards stated that many off-campus criminal cases are due to students not taking the proper precautions, and he urges students to lock their doors and windows before leaving for long periods of time.
The chancellor addressed students’ concerns about crime alerts. He explained that crime on and off campus has not increased, but the number of notifications has. Under the Clery Act of New Jersey, sending information about crimes within a certain perimeter is required. Edwards is attempting to expand the perimeter of what is eligible for categorization of a crime alert.
In terms of student safety, Edwards said he wants to allay the fears students voiced in previous years. In response to last years’ student survey about sexual assault, Rutgers will be taking steps to further inform students on how to deal with it. This information will be given in the form of documentaries such as “The Hunting Ground”, open panels and seminars with sexual assault survivors, courses and workshops.
In terms of Rutgers’ cyber security, Edwards confirmed that law enforcement and the FBI are involved in finding the hackers who have executed Denial of Service Attacks throughout the 2014-2015 year. While he understands students’ concern around the attacks, he stated there have been improvements since last year. “The Internet issue [on Sept. 28] was resolved in a matter of hours, and the person attacking Rutgers’ internet is not able to access any personal information,” he said.