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February 2022 update

After the initial two months of work reimagining and reorganizing, a couple of questions come up regarding the latter: “Why move SafeCampus into the new Division of Campus Community Safety? How will that improve outcomes?”

Better outcomes for students, staff and faculty will need to be proven year after year (we’ll talk metrics in future updates), but there is a theory behind the move, a theory grounded in contemporary debate about how to change the culture of safety services, including expectations of policing.

For those who are unfamiliar, SafeCampus is the University’s violence prevention and response program. Trained staff serve a safety planning and threat assessment function for students, staff and faculty where ever they may be. That means they not only support UW community members at the UW’s three campuses and hospitals, but also students and personnel studying or working outside the United States and even on board UW’s ships at sea. In addition, SafeCampus staff provide important training in violence prevention, and in prevention of sexual harassment and gender discrimination for academic student employees and post docs. Calls to SafeCampus can be made anonymously.

The SafeCampus focus on violence prevention, employing deep listening and paying heightened attention to the experiences and concerns of people of color and people with typically marginalized identities aligns with long-standing calls to reimagine how cities, towns, colleges and universities think about the spectrum of safety needs and effective services.

Under the new Division of Campus Community Safety, SafeCampus will do everything that it does now, but as the cultural heart of a division dedicated to the present and future of campus safety. The SafeCampus manager will be an administrative direct report to a vice president rather than multiple levels down in a division and competing with a raft of other priorities. Nothing changes about when and how SafeCampus communicates case details. SafeCampus would not work cases with UW Police any more than it does now — when a serious threat is identified and requires a broader team approach to prevention and intervention.

Ultimately, the move elevates attention to violence prevention and alternative responses to crises. This is core for reimagining the now and future of public safety.

Thank yous: A big thank you to the teams and individuals who took time to meet in February, including:

  • LiveWell (home to the UW’s confidential advocates)
  • Student Conduct Office
  • Faculty Council on Gender Equity and Justice
  • UWPD officers and sergeants at Feb. 2 roll calls

Furthering the conversation: This episode of the Hidden Brain podcast focuses on the work of Yale professor and psychologist Philip Ariba Goff who studies the relationship between race and policing in the United States. In an hour, it covers a lot of ground regarding expectations of police, the expectations we have of each other, and what progress can look like. It’s a great listen.