"I believe that the administration is very concerned about sexual violence and is willing to look at what is needed to solve the problems," Dilapi said. "But we need to continue to build community awareness and create a consistent attitude that distinguishes between sex and violent rape." "Then we will be able to have much more trusting relationships between men and women, and a community which consistently cares about sexual assault and violence," she added. In 1988, Dilapi said she was dissatisfied with the two security reports because they did not sufficiently deal with victim support services and improvements that could be made in the area. But last month, she said the University has made an effort to go beyond the reports' shortcomings. "The fact that both reports were written by men really influenced what was written," Dilapi said. "The man often tries to deny the woman's experience. However, I think we've broken through some of the denial and we're beginning to have people working together to see what can be done about it." Whittington said that a small group of police officers have recently been trained in victim support-oriented skills and are available to the University Police's Victim Support Services Director Ruth Wells to use when necessary. College junior Jeffrey Jacobson, co-chairperson of the University Council Safety and Security Committee, said last week that the changes in the way the department deals with sexual violence have affected the way students look at crime and security as well. "The issue of acquaintance rape has come to dominate security concerns on campus," Jacobson said. "Because we have less off-campus crime to focus on, the problems of acquaintance rape and victim support are only now coming to our attention." And while Jacobson is happy that the crime rate has been decreasing, he is worried that should Governor Robert Casey's proposed $18 million cut in University funding pass the state legislature, the University may have a difficult time maintaining the present level of security. "Personally I've been very impressed with the University's commitment to security," Jacobson said. "But for the last two years we've been working from a position of relative affluence. I am concerned with the proposed budget cuts, that we keep our grades high even when our coffers are low." But both Senior Vice President Whittington and President Hackney have said that the security of the campus community is the administration's top priority, and Whittington said that even a severe budget cut would not lower the department's effectiveness. "We increased the [University Police] budget for 1991 by 30 percent and we are absolutely committed to security for our environment and community, and that's a given," she said. "The budget crunch will not impact on the security of this campus. That's just not going to happen. Security is not a money issue." · There are other issues that the consultant reports pointed to that have yet to be addressed by the University. Both reports stressed the necessity of employing security guards hired directly by the University instead of going to outside contractors. The University currently hires guards from several private companies for dormitory and building security. An in-house hiring practice, the report says, would allow for more extensive background checks on the individual guards and would unify all security personnel under the University Police Department. And although colleges such as Columbia University have already instituted an in-house screening process, administrators said that the University is still in the planning stages. "We are looking at now looking at what it would take to create an internal security guard force," Whittington said. "Some buildings, such as the animal laboratories, have volunteered to be test sights for such a project." Another potential problem facing the University in the future could be labor negotiations. The last time the department's contracts expired in 1988, Public Safety officers began a walkout that lasted for 45 days. But Whittington said she does not expect any such reaction by the officers or their unions when current contracts come up next year. "I've gotten no such indication from any members of the department," Whittington said. "I think that much of the staff is still adjusting to our expanded size and capabilities and many are realizing that we have a truly excellent department here." Despite the problems still facing University Police, Whittington believes that the "light at the end of the tunnel" is within sight. She admits there are still problems that need to be solved and issues that need to be discussed, but also believes that a true solution to security problems can only come "when everyone realizes that campus security is all of our jobs."Comments powered by Disqus
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