USC designated international safe community

first_imgUSC has become the first university in the world to be designated an “international safe community” by the World Health Organization Collaboration Centre on Community Safety Promotion, a designation indicating a strong network of collaboration that works toward the safety and wellness of a community.Usually, cities and municipalities receive the honor.“It indicates that USC is very serious about the safety and the well-being of students, faculty and staff,” said Charles E. Lane, associate senior vice president for Career and Protective Services. “We actually are very sincere, and we put serious efforts into making sure it happens at many, many different levels. Not just the obvious levels, but many that go on behind the scenes.”The university is the first institution of higher education to apply, said Donna Stein-Harris, director of the U.S. National Safety Council’s Safe Communities America efforts.Applicants first go through an application process and then an auditing period before they receive the designation.“We just are very pleased with how USC has approached this. They really will be the leaders in this movement as more universities understand the value of this kind of designation of honor,” said Stein-Harris, who helped audit the university.Ed Becker, director of USC’s Environmental Health & Safety department, said he first approached the university with the idea of seeking the designation when he realized USC’s community was very much like a city.“We’re the first university that recognized that the collaborative and the holistic approach [of USC] was similar to that of a municipality. We have police, and policies and procedures, transportation issues,” Becker said.Becker and Lane began the application process by creating the USC Safe Communities Task Force, which originally sought  to compile and list the groups and initiatives on campus that encouraged safety and well-being.Eventually, Becker said, the task force became a driving coalition to create and enact change toward creating a safer campus.“The process is fairly malleable in that it allows you to identify what your target groups are,” Becker said. “It’s challenging [to get] groups of people that may have not met in the past or that don’t work on a daily basis together behind a single purpose.”At first, the task force focused on traffic safety around campus areas with heavy bike traffic and few stoplights. The task force will meet to discuss risk factors and propose solutions as well as how to best address issues on campus this year.It is this collaborative approach to risks and safety, Stein-Harris said, that made USC stand out for the designation.“It’s recognition that there are risks out there, but the designation is based on the community — in this case, the campus’ approach to risk management. If they have a process for dealing with these kinds of incidents,” Stein-Harris said.Lane acknowledged, however, that a safe community designation does not necessarily mean a crime-free community.“We’re not saying that we’re the safest community. We have processes in place that try to get us to become the safest community,” Lane said. “Organizations that don’t have this in place aren’t in a position necessarily to react to problems that come up like we might be able to.”Though the topic of crime around the University Park Campus did come up during the audit, Lane said the efforts of the university to coordinate with the Los Angeles Police Department was one of the collaborative efforts the Safe Communities designation recognizes.“We just wanted to make sure we identified many of the issues,” Lane said. “It’s not like we park those on the side, because we continue to address those all the time.”last_img

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