DOVER — Addressing student campus safety concerns Friday, Delaware State University President Dr. Tony Allen announced several new measures designed to allay those fears.
Following an on-campus meeting lasting less than an hour, Dr. Allen released a letter outlining the steps ahead.
While university spokesman Carlos Holmes did not have an estimated crowd size he did say the turnout was “well attended” with more faculty and staff than students.
Media were not permitted by the university to attend the meeting.
Last week was a tumultuous one at the university, starting with a student-organized town hall meeting on Tuesday, an on-campus protest Wednesday, and a second town hall Thursday that lasted several hours and reportedly ended after 2 a.m.
Students expressed concerns on reported sexual assaults cases and safety issues on campus.
Also last week, Mr. Holmes reported that there have been five sexual assault cases overall since school began in late August and investigation continues in all of them. The university has 33 campus safety members, he said.
Since last week’s town hall, Dr. Allen said in the letter he had “been in deep reflection since the event.
“This is not new territory for colleges and universities throughout the country, but it is clearly an opportunity for Delaware State University to do something different and better.
“I am committed to beginning that process, bringing to bear the expertise and talent found throughout this University–faculty, students, alumni and parents alike.
“No words will ever suffice in moments like these, only actions – actions that reflect a seriousness of accountability.”
Before unveiling the latest steps, Dr. Allen referenced and provided a link to steps activated immediately after Thursday’s meeting and said “We recognize that meaningful change takes time to achieve, and we want to ensure that we approach the process as effectively as possible.”
Additional steps announced on Friday included:
• Implementation of Sensitivity Training for the entire university community, beginning with Public Safety; utilization of body cameras on all Public Safety officers.
• Establishment of a Center for Safety & Well-being on campus.
• Announcing the new Safe Space Coalition as well as new strategic committees.
The Safe Space Coalition will assess university safety protocols, campus policies, and response services that deal with sexual assaults, domestic violence, harassment, bullying, mental illness, and health-related matters, the letter said.
Dr. Allen said the coalition will then submit recommendations to him, monitor implementation, and report out to the broader university community monthly.
Leading the Safe Space Coalition are Dr. Gwen Scott-Jones, Dean of the Wesley College of Health and Behavioral Sciences, and senior social work major and Student Government Association Treasurer Rita Williams.
Other core team members include university students, parents, and administrators.
New strategic committees — open to the entire university community — are being formed with volunteers sought.
• Student Awareness, Engagement & Safety
• Employee Awareness & Safety
• Campus Health
• Counseling & Prevention
• Judicial Affairs & Title IX
• Public Safety
• Communications & Customer Service
• Project Resources & Funding
• Facilities Management
A link to desu.edu for anyone interested in joining was provided.
Dr. Allen closed the message by saying “I want to remind everyone that we are in this together and that no one should feel alone. To be clear, we must all be active in protecting our campus and each other: ‘If you see something, say something.’ ”
Another link was provided for available resources, along with a new, anonymous Title IX hotline available any time at 302-857-6866.