Students follow up on Campus Safety Walk at Administrators’ Forum: SGA invites administrators to hear student concerns

Caroline gordon / THE GATEPOST

By Leighah Beausoleil

Asst. News Editor

By Evan Lee

Asst. News Editor

FSU students voiced their concerns regarding campus safety, the timeliness of the RamTram, and a lack of space for commuter students, among other issues, during the Administrators’ Forum hosted by SGA Oct. 22. 

Campus safety concerns

Following up on SGA’s Oct. 8 Campus Safety Walk, Abigail Salvucci, vice president of SGA, asked Brad Medeiros, chief of University Police, if there has been “communication” over concerns brought up by students.

These include concerns regarding the number of blue lights on campus, inadequate lighting in certain areas, and the desire for more security cameras in the parking lots. 

Medeiros responded that an infrastructure evaluation of the Franklin, Union, and Maple parking lots had just been completed to assess the potential for adding more security cameras at each. 

“The next step is to get the cable contractor here, to see what he’s going to charge. And then get the video contractor here for the cost estimate,” he said.

The addition of another blue light to Dwight Hall is also under consideration, he added.

During the safety walk, students identified the hall’s existing blue light, which is located on the north side closest to Hemenway Labs, as underused. 

Medeiros said, “It’s probably going to be beneficial to leave that one there and install a secondary one on the other side.”  

Pedestrian crosswalk signs have also been purchased for the crosswalk leading to the bus stop outside CASA, as well as for one of the crosswalks along Towers’ hill, Medeiros added.

Dale Hamel, executive vice president, gave updates on the safety walk from the Facilities and Capital Planning Operations’ side. 

Addressing areas students pointed out as too dark, Hamel said a new light will be installed on the side of the IT building. “We can do that in-house, and we’re going to try to get that done before wintertime,” he said. 

He discussed two more lighting projects – one along Church Street and another between the McCarthy Center and Foster Hall.

Facilities will likely have to work with the City’s Public Safety Department on the Church Street project as that is a public roadway, Hamel said.

Trees outside of Hemenway Labs and the Honors House will be trimmed by FSU’s “in-house crew” to allow more light to shine from existing sources, he added.

However, trimming some of the trees outside the President’s House will need to be discussed with the City as they are outside the University’s property, Hamel said. 

McKenzie Ward, SGA senator, asked if there was a way to place the light outside the Honors House on a timer. 

“I use the Honors House probably about 8 o’clock at night, and usually ,the outside light is not on, so it’s kind of darker down there,” she explained. 

Hamel said her suggestion will be added to the list.

Matt O’Sullivan, SGA senator, asked, “What would you say is the threshold at which the whole campus would be notified of an event that is deemed a detriment to public health and safety standards?”

President F. Javier Cevallos answered the University has an emergency system where if the event is “something that can effect people immediately, you will be notified immediately.”

Medeiros explained that for critical incidents posing an immediate threat to the campus, such as an active shooter, “FSU Alert would be used first and foremost.” 

He said for ongoing threats, such as suspect not being apprehended after a crime, “timely notices” will be posted to safety bulletins as well as FSUPD’s website, Facebook page, and Twitter to inform the community about what happened and what they should look out for. 

For events that do not pose such threats to the campus, there may be privacy issues concerning their notification, according to Cevallos. 

“From the University’s point of view, I have a responsibility to protect the privacy of the student … and the same thing for the employee,” he explained. 

Cevallos added Connie Cabello, vice president for diversity, inclusion and community engagement, and her team, are looking at “proper recommendations” to implement a protocol for notifications. 

“That protocol will be known by everybody, so when ‘X,’ happens, people will be notified, and  when ‘Y,’ happens, we will wait for an investigation to conclude,” Cevallos said.

Lorretta Holloway, vice president of enrollment and student development, said it is never in the University’s protocol to send emails if a student is arrested. 

“We need to remember that a person who has been arrested has just been arrested – they have not been convicted. Those are two different things,” she explained. 

RamTram and parking 

Lexi Kays, SGA secretary, discussed the “unreliable” RamTram system she is “subjected to” when trying to get to her car in the Franklin resident lot, which is about a mile away from campus. She says she needs her car to drive to a required field study at a local elementary school.

“Sometimes, I don’t make it to my car on Thursday mornings until 8:20, when I had planned to be at the school by 8:15, even though I have been waiting at the on-campus pickup station since 7:45 a.m.,” she explained.

She asked what “initiatives” the University has looked into for helping “residents with required off-campus experiences” be present on time in terms of “parking and STC” (Student Transportation Center). 

Medeiros answered students with internships or field studies can request to be placed in the Athletic Field parking lot by contacting Katelynn O’Guerra, communications dispatcher for University Police.

Samuel Houle, SGA senator, continued the discussion on the RamTram’s unreliability, saying “I walk the mile to Franklin because I don’t trust the RamTram.”

He explained he lost his trust in the RamTram after being late to work because it did not arrive a couple of times. During the winter months, when he can’t walk to his car, he said he has to tell his boss that he’ll be arriving half an hour late because of the RamTram. 

“I’m losing a half an hour of work.  … That’s biting into my paycheck,” he said. 

Olivia Rothwell, SGA senator, suggested, “I think it would be beneficial if we could look into hiring another full-time driver.”

Rothwell also discussed the distance of resident parking, saying it is “detrimental” for students who need their cars to get to work or deal with other responsibilities, but are unable to park closer to campus.

Hamel responded, “The issue here is, ‘Who goes where?’”

He explained this issue has been discussed by the Parking Committee, and there must be a “trade off” between commuters and residents for changes to occur. 

“We’ll keep bringing [the parking problem] to the committee and hopefully find a good balance,” he said.

Lack of space available for commuters

Emma Sullivan, SGA senator and commuter student, expressed that “myself, and almost all other commuters students I’ve asked, agree that the school prioritizes its resident students over commuter students.”

She explained that since commuters do not have a dorm to go back to, they must find other places to relax and prepare for their next classes. However, she said seating in the McCarthy Center, the Whittemore Library, and Hemenway Labs is “almost always filled.”

She acknowledged the additional seating added to the McCarthy Center over the summer – the three tables outside the 1839 Room – but said, “to be frank, we need more than that.”

Matty Bennet, president of SGA and also a commuter, added throughout his four years at FSU, he has seen reductions in the amount of space made available for commuters. 

He explained during his sophomore year, half of the commuter dining area was taken over for use by the Main Dining Hall. 

Prior to renovations during summer 2018, the area between what is now Metamorphosis and the Dining Hall’s UCook station was all part of the commuter dining area. 

“I know there’s a concern about resident seating, but now I’m going to have to pay to sit in the same area where I was able to sit the year before and do my homework is,” Bennet said.

He called this change “very disatisfying.”

He also discussed the replacement of Starbucks by Dunkin’ in the McCarthy Center, which was also part of those same renovations.

“I love my Dunkin’ as much as the next person, but where the Starbucks used to be, it also used to be commuter seating,” he said.

“So to me – as a commuter – and I’m sure Emma [Sullivan] can echo my sentiments, it’s that the school will say, ‘Yes, we value commuters. They’re very important,’ but then every space that we find and use gets taken away for resident use or other use,” Bennet added.  

He said as a result, many commuters “would go to class, go home, and then come back.

“And that’s just unrealistic because there’s nowhere to stay,” he added.

Dining Services

Mariah Ferris, SGA senator, said she thought food from the Main Dining Hall is “questionable.” 

She described a situation last week where the buns of the burgers from Magellan’s were “dripping wet and stained red” as the burgers themselves were undercooked and raw. 

“There are pictures going through social media of the burger being completely raw, not cooked rare, but literally out of the packaging – raw on a bun,” she added. 

Aretha Phillips, general manager of Dining Services, said she was made aware of the situation and they are “developing a standard operating procedure for cooking burgers at that station.”

She explained the grill at the station was at “the wrong temperature” and the worker saw the burger cooked on the outside, despite it not being cooked on the inside.

“It was a new worker that was at that station working during that time frame that it happened,” she added.

Uncredited coursework 

Samuel Houle described a situation in which one of his professors was on medical leave for the first month of classes. In that professor’s place was a long-term substitute who “didn’t work off of the syllabus,” but still took attendance and gave homework assignments.  

“When my professor returned from medical leave, he told me that the course starts today and everything done before will be discounted,” Houle said.

He asked, “What steps will be taken in the future to prevent these things from happening?” 

Angela Salas, provost and vice president for academic affairs, answered, “Since that was an unanticipated thing, nobody really thought about what would happen at the end.” 

She explained there’s a certain level to which the faculty member has the right to determine when the work begins. But she added she understands the disappointment of Houle and his colleagues over their situation. 

She said, “I think the only thing that can happen is to have a conversation with my colleagues about making these succession plans more seamless.

“We have to build a bridge after you tried to cross over it and fell into the water. And I’m really sorry that you’re all wet,” said Salas.

“I take it very seriously, and this will be a conversation my colleagues and I will have about what to do going forward,” she added. 

Olivia Beverlie, student trustee, said she thought the forum was “very productive.

“I’m happy that students have had the ability to voice their concerns here,” she said.

[Editor’s Note: McKenzie Ward is a staff writer for the Gatepost.]

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