Q&A - August 19, 2016

It has been said that the best kind of security is the kind you never have to think about. On college campuses, we don’t want personal safety to be something students have at the forefront of their mind. We would rather it be the homework they have due, or that test that’s coming up, or the intramural softball game they’re playing later.

But for faculty and staff at OSUIT, the safety and security of our students and employees is something we think about a lot and always strive to improve. Administratively, my preference is to have exceptional security measures in place and then never have to use them.

Students don’t always appreciate the measures we go to in order to ensure their safety, but I know parents do. So this week, I would like to respond to another question about campus safety.

Q: How is safety and security taken into consideration both on campus and in the new downtown student housing developments?

From the design of our buildings, to the presence of storm shelters, to the readiness of fire extinguishers, safety is always first and foremost on our minds. We have a campus police force with licensed police officers that patrol our facilities and campus constantly, and nationally we rate as a very safe campus.

With the two downtown buildings that will be renovated and turned into student housing, safety and security has been a priority from the beginning. The personal safety of students who will be living within these facilities has taken precedence over all other design considerations. This means some original, historical elements of the buildings must give way to newer, safer materials or structures. We are paying very close attention to the details and considering all aspects of personal safety with the inclusion of both active and passive security systems.

Additionally, we have recently launched a new safety application for smart phones called “Cowboy Guardian.” Users can alert the OSUIT Police Department or the nearest 911 dispatch, and text law enforcement anonymously with crime reporting tips. In the event of a critical incident, the mobile app also allows law enforcement to locate the cell phone through GPS. With this new app, users can create a profile and invite family and friends to their safety network as “guardians.” When needed, the user can request one or more of their “guardians” to virtually walk with them on or off campus.

Like many of you, I can remember a time before 911, and if something happened, you had to track down a pay phone and look up a police department phone number. What an advancement it was to have 911, but now we can do so much more. Cowboy Guardian is an exciting new enhanced level of safety for students whether they are living on campus or off campus. Eventually we are going to see sophisticated mobile apps like this being used in cities and on college campuses all across the country, but it is in use now at OSUIT.

I really appreciate your questions about OSUIT. If you have more for me, please send them to osuit-president@okstate.edu.