For parents, leaving your child at college can be nerve wracking, especially the first year, when the campus is still unfamiliar and your child has yet to make friends. Parents worry, will my child be OK? Will my child be safe?
Keeping campuses safe means protecting students wherever they are, from large communal spaces to the privacy of individual dorm rooms.
The State University of New York has made student safety a priority by providing the best training to our university police departments, adopting the latest security technologies and continually improving our safety protocols.
Our university police are highly trained law enforcement officers, with the power to enforce all state and local laws, and investigate crimes, while serving a college community.
Our officers receive the most sophisticated implicit bias awareness training, and many of our campus police departments are accredited by New York’s Division of Criminal Justice Services, which means they exceed expectations and implement policies that are conceptually sound and operationally effective.
Our campuses also employ the most up-to-date security technologies, such as the emergency broadcast systems that notify students of impending emergencies.
These systems enable customized messaging, delivered in different modes such as text, email and public address systems. We continue to maintain blue light emergency phones, which provide immediate access to police when students are in need.
Along with these obvious measures, SUNY is raising awareness of other forms of violence that may be less apparent but equally dangerous, such as interpersonal and sexual violence.
For the last two years, SUNY has offered a program called the Sexual and Interpersonal Violence and Prevention Response Course, or SPARC.
SPARC is an online training course offered to colleges anywhere that encompasses important training requirements stipulated by state and federal laws such as Title IX and New York’s groundbreaking Enough is Enough legislation.
SPARC helps students understand complex issues such as consent, harassment, and sexual misconduct, while empowering them to become active bystanders and advocates for change.
As part of our efforts to constantly improve, this year we added TRAC, a companion online program that stands for Training in Reducing Alcohol Consumption. It teaches students about the effects of alcohol, staying safe around alcohol, and what to do when friends drink too much.
Since its launch in April 2017, more than 200 colleges around the country and overseas have registered for SPARC. When SPARC is fully operational, more than 2 million students in our nation’s colleges will hear SPARC’s messages of interpersonal safety and violence prevention.
Whether in the confines of a dorm room or out in a public space, we simply have no room for acts of violence in any of its ugly forms, anytime, anywhere. That’s why SUNY is committed to strengthening campus safety in every way possible.
Parents should know that we have their children’s backs —and their safety— when they come to a SUNY campus.
— Kristina Johnson is chancellor for the State University of New York