The Future of Security on Campus

Wheaton College will experience changes to security on campus. After incidents of arson in the fall semester and a subsequent arrest of the alleged perpetrator on February 7, the campus administration has been reviewing what safety means on campus. The most prominent development is the installation of security cameras on the exterior of campus housing. Though the first round of camera installations took precedent on the lower campus buildings of Meadows, Clark, Young and McIntire, the cameras will also be installed in upper campus housing.

Campus during the winter. Photo by Magdalene McCaffrey.

Dean Kate McCaffrey spoke on the continuing discussions of campus security and the building back of trust around campus safety and student support. While exterior cameras will be installed and utilized for extended security services, interior cameras will not be used on campus unless needed on a case by case basis for investigation.

Due to the size of the campus and each dorm holding up to 150 students, according to Dean Kate, sign-in desks were likely never present in upper campus dorms and those built in lower campus dorms were either renovated or removed from dorms in 2011. A new initiative for guest registration has been implemented and Dean Kate thinks the revival of sign-in desks will not be necessary.

“As an honor code school, I hope that’s not something we have to go to,” Dean Kate commented.

Instead, she hopes that with the help of Public Safety, the student body will have a support network while continuing to be trusted to utilize self-reporting resources on campus, such as the LiveSafe app, and to contact Resident Advisors and Public Safety as needed. “I think that’s still our best safety mechanism,” Dean Kate continued.

To build further on the resources available to students, Counseling Services is being expanded. In the past semester, a new clinician has been added to the Counseling Services roster and they are working to create an after-hours resource similar to a help hotline. This program could be rolled out as soon as Fall 2019, by creating a contract with trained individuals who are able to provide care after hours online or over the phone for Counseling Services.

A platform for this program is being researched extensively by Counseling Services office to ensure that the program will fill the needs of the school properly.

Along with these new initiatives, there have been changes in Public Safety’s workings. After working as Chief of Public Safety for four years, Christopher Santiago has stepped down from the position. Brian Douglas, Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration, commented: “I will take some time to determine what’s best for Public Safety going forward. I welcome student input into that process.”

However, this turn over in leadership does not change the determination of the department to protect the campus and ensure the safety of the community. During the fall semester, Public Safety joined the faculty in mental health first aid training and expanded this training over the winter break with Threat Assessment training.

Overall, Wheaton is moving forward to create a community of deeper trust and understanding to support the student body.