While students at Waubonsee Community College and elsewhere are busy worrying about fitting in, finding just the right classes or finishing homework on time, there’s another group paying attention to an entirely different set of priorities. For the most part, the work of this group remains invisible to students, but, when done well, it ensures that success at school is all students need to be thinking about.
This background work is generally covered under the very broad umbrella called public safety. At Waubonsee the public safety program includes emergency preparedness initiatives, Campus Police operations, and security and risk mitigation activities.
One important initiative began nearly four years ago when the college’s board of trustees affirmed that the safety of our students is best served by a police department. This decision led to the transformation from a basic security force to a credible, experienced and trusted police presence on campus.
Over the past few years, Waubonsee has taken several other steps to ensure safety for our students, faculty and visitors. The college has upgraded its emergency notification systems, which now include public address speakers in each building, as well as a voice and text-capable alerting system. We also implemented and refined a threat assessment and intervention program that allows college officials to receive reports about students or staff that maybe exhibiting troubling behavior. The program then provides for a team of administrators, counselors and safety personnel to conduct an in-depth evaluation and implement a course of action.
The college continues its focus on safety through drills and training. All of Waubonsee’s administrators are trained in the National Incident Management System (NIMS), so that we can efficiently interact with other public safety partners if necessary. Faculty and staff receive training in managing classrooms and common areas, and the college conducts routine drills and testing of our emergency procedures.
We also work to enhance safety throughout the community. Waubonsee’s Sugar Grove Campus is now recognized as a point-of-distribution site for medical emergencies and as a Red Cross emergency shelter. Roadway safety will be enhanced with the Illinois Department of Transportation’s approval of a contract to install a traffic signal on the north entrance to the Sugar Grove Campus.
These are just a few examples of Waubonsee’s commitment to safety. These efforts, along with many more, ensure that students and staff can continue to focus on what’s really important to them when they come to Waubonsee: a vibrant teaching and learning environment where futures take shape.
John Wu is the college’s Director of Emergency Preparedness and Safety.