The decision-making members of the Arizona Board of Regents discussed Thursday the topic of student safety and the implementation of a joint task force between the three state universities to regulate events that may cause harm to the student community.
The joint task force’s goal is to examine issues related to student safety with joint participation from community leaders, university leaders, public safety officials, students and student organizations to increase coordination.
ABOR President Eileen Klein presented the task force proposal. She said it has received a favorable response and that she plans to continue working on this matter with the board.
“We recognize many students don’t live on campus, and this propels us to have a very positive working relationship with the community,” she said.
The task force will work in conjunction with city officials to provide a safer environment for students and residents within the community.
ABOR requested student involvement in the task force.
“We feel there are a lot of students and student organizations that can lend to this,” Klein said.
ASU President Michael Crow echoed the idea behind the task force and promoted Klein’s goals.
“I think the task force is an excellent idea,” Crow said. “Safety is a principle objective of ours and ASU is a safe community.”
Crow said being a safe community doesn’t mean that some students step outside the University’s rules.
“Rest assured students that misbehave are punished, suspended or dismissed, and rest assured those punishments have been delivered when needed,” he said.
Many students are already exposed to alcohol by the time they arrive at the University, Crow said.
The task force will also be looking into ways to prevent misbehavior, and Regent Mark Killian said he wants the group to take a closer look at preventive measures instead of just punishment.
“Many students arrive already being introduced to this legal drug,” he said. “What else can we do to help students that arrive at our universities with this problem?”
When discussing national statistics on alcohol abuse, Killian said the issue needs a deeper look.
“When our students leave, do we want them to leave with a degree in business and alcoholism?” he said. “I’m not talking about prohibition here, but we need to look at this.”
UA President Ann Hart discussed the issues surrounding alcohol abuse on campus as well as mental health.
“When we talk about student safety, we are also talking about some unwanted side effects,” she said. “Unwanted sexual assault or simply mindless behavior, and we need to talk about student emergency well-being issues.”
Regent Jay Heiler discussed ASU’s code of conduct with Crow, pointing out that students do not have to physically sign the code, which could bring up issues in the future.
“I recommend that students physically sign a code of conduct,” he said.
The task force is in its beginning stages, and ABOR has meetings set for the spring to discuss the situation in more detail.
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