University of Florida Among First To Use Online Safety Program

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The University of Florida is one of the first institutions that will begin using the VTV Family Outreach Foundation’s 32 National Campus Safety Initiative.

The 32 NCSI is a series of free online confidential self-assessment tools for colleges and universities to see where their policies and procedures are in nine key campus safety areas including campus public safety, mental health and emergency management.

Families of the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting victims created the foundation. The number 32 was selected to serve as a living legacy for the 32 students and faculty killed in the tragedy, and the survivors as well.

The online tool will help institutions gauge their methods and practices for ensuring safety and security.

“It will allow institutions based on best and promising practices to identify where they are doing well and where there may be gaps that they need to bridge with how they provide safety and security services,” said S. Carter, director of VTV Family Outreach Foundation and 32 NCSI.

A student walks by an emergency phone station at the Hub. UF was chosen by the VTV Family Outreach Foundation as a model for campus safety in the nation.
A student walks by an emergency phone station at the Hub. UF was chosen by the VTV Family Outreach Foundation as a model for campus safety in the nation. Allison Stendardo / WUFT

The initiative will launch at George Mason University on August 13.

Part of Carter’s initial task when creating the initiative was to identify thirteen of the nation’s leading experts in campus safety, one being UF’s Jen Day Shaw.

Day Shaw, associate vice president and dean of students at UF, said she and other expert panelists spoke with families, who thought the best way to start this initiative would be to work with colleges and universities.

“The foundation is interested in families of perspective students being able to get information about campus safety,” Day Shaw said.

Families of the VT shooting victims want to make sure campuses are as safe as they can possibly make them after the tragedy they had to face, she said.

UF and six other schools were chosen to participate in the pilot survey for 32 NCSI, which lasted a year in order to choose the best national standards for every type of institution to follow.

“We’re a national model,” Day Shaw said when asked about why UF was chosen. “We’re nationally known for our campus safety, we have schools come and see us all the time.”

She pointed out the police department is accredited by three different accrediting agencies, which is rare.

“We were thrilled to have such a large, robust institution participate and help us validate our instrument,” Carter said.

While Day Shaw said UF is at platinum level when it comes to safety standards, she personally would want to see more being done with the concerns of alcohol.

“Alcohol drives a lot of other safety issues so even though we do a lot with it, it is something we continually have to work on” said Day Shaw, “I would like to see us emphasize helping students really make smart choices and making sure they are not put in vulnerable situations.”

Day Shaw said the university is also looking into things like off-campus transportation. UF currently has SNAP that runs on campus but she would like to see more of a door-to-door service for students.

“Institutions are sometimes criticized for campus safety efforts, said Peter Lake, 32 NCSI advisory council chairman in a press release. “For the first time, there is now a tool to help campuses implement effective programs across a wide variety of safety metrics,” Lake said.

About Allison Stendardo

Allison is a reporter for WUFT News and can be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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