The University Assembly voted yesterday to form a task force to investigate and recommend changes for campus safety, security and crime prevention. This task force was created in response to heightened interest in safety and security on campus and in Collegetown, especially in light of the recent incidents surrounding the “Collegetown Creeper.”
The U.A. consists of Cornell undergraduate and graduate students, faculty and staff. It meets once a month, with representatives from the Student Assembly, Graduate and Professional Student Assembly, Faculty Senate and the Employee Assembly of Cornell.
According to assembly coordinator Martin Lang, the U.A. “considers issues that affect everybody, as opposed to [one constituency] … for example, issues purely about Greek life would involve only the S.A.” He explained that the U.A. meetings were similar to Joint Sessions of the U.S. House and Senate.
George Sutfin of Cornell Police was at the meeting to comment on campus safety issues. “We cannot make every place on campus safe,” he said, and added that people had to take steps of their own to guarantee their safety, “such as locking your doors.”
Specifically on the Creeper, Sutfin said, “[Such incidents] are happening to our community, but it’s not under [Cornell Police’s] jurisdiction … our jurisdiction is limited to University property.” He pointed out that Cornell Police has made efforts to collaborate with the Ithaca Police Department to monitor the campus and surrounding area.
Sutfin also described efforts to provide appropriate lighting to paths throughout campus. He emphasized that certain routes on campus were intentionally unlit, “because we don’t want people walking there.” These routes, Sutfin said, could be dangerous, and explained that other nearby routes are well-lit to encourage people to use those instead.
Leon Lawrence, director of multicultural affairs at the College of Architecture, Art and Planning and the employee representative at the U.A., placed this resolution on the table at the meeting yesterday.
Lawrence commented on the task force and its intended purpose after the meeting. “Hopefully, it’s going to cause a safer campus. In the future, if similar situations such as the Creeper occur again, they will be immediately apprehended,” he said.
According to the resolution, the task force is charged to investigate topics such as “‘neighborhood watch’ style community programs for Greek houses, dormitories and Collegetown neighborhoods … educational initiatives, including the creation of a mandatory ‘life skills’ course for all incoming students.” It will issue a preliminary report, including its recommendations, to the U.A. on March 30 next year. The U.A. will select members of the task force at the next meeting; task force meetings will be open to the public.
Campus transportation issues were also dealt with at the U.A. meeting. David Lieb from Cornell’s Transportation and Mail Services was available, speaking on issues regarding parking, carpooling, public buses and mail center location changes. Lieb briefly explained the parking rate increase, attributing the difference to Cornell’s decision to reduce the amount of rate subsidization and to create incentives to carpool.
According to an overview issued by the U.A., “[it] also participates in the selection of the Judicial Administrator, Ombudsman and Judicial Advisor; and has legislative authority over University Health Services, Transportation and Mail Services, Cornell United Religious Work and the Cornell Store. Seven faculty, five staff, two undergraduates and three graduate or professional students are appointed by the four constituent assemblies, and four additional undergraduate representatives are directly elected.” Meetings are held on the fourth Wednesday of each month during the academic year from 4:30 to 6:00 p.m.