Eagle Alert forum answers questions

Dean of Students Patrice Jackson.Photo by: Courtney Bonacci

Tannis Kufner

Tonight, representatives from various on- and off-campus safety organizations joined the Student Government Association (SGA) to host an Eagle Alert forum to answer student safety concerns.

The Statesboro Police Department (SPD), University Police Department (GSUPD), the Department of University Housing (DUH) and various off-campus apartment complexes were represented.

The event started with introductions from each department, then the floor opened up for questions.

James Kelly, senior marketing major and SGA senator, asked a question in regards to having campus safety escorts at night to accompany students who are walking alone at night.

“It is a very under-utilized program,” Chief Michael Russell, director of Public Safety, said. “We have student assistants as part of the program available from nine at night until two in the morning.”

Patrice Jackson, Ph.D., dean of students, clarified the difference between Eagle Alerts and Campus Alerts.

“When you receive an Eagle Alert that means something is happening now or has very recently happened, and here are some instructions,” Jackson said. “Campus Alert only goes to Georgia Southern email and is usually a situation where GSU police has already handled.”

Russell described the timeline between an incident occurring and the notification sent to students.

“If it is on campus, we get first-hand knowledge of it and get the information out quicker,” Russell said. “I will then call Dean Jackson and we decide whether we send an Eagle Alert or a Campus Alert.”

“With the delay, you must remember we are dealing with the human element,” Bronson said. “We have to juggle with trying to catch the bad guy and trying to get the information to students.”

A deciding factor between Eagle Alert and Campus Alert is if someone is in immediate danger, Russell said.

Questions about making off-campus apartment complexes safer were raised, and Major Scott Bronson of SPD responded with suggestions such as keeping doors locked and being aware of who is around you.

Students also asked about safety within the apartment or dorm and Tierza Watts, the director of Residence Education, DUH discussed the importance of being open with your roommates.

“If you come home to a party and think ‘I don’t want to have any part of that,’ is when we would encourage you to quietly leave, come to the office and ask for assistance,” Watts said.

“If you feel your rights are being violated or your space in where you want to be is being infringed on we encourage you in using us to be of assistance for you to have that conversation,” Watts said.

Colton Lassinger, area manager for Priess Company representing 111 South and University Village, suggests that students consider renter’s insurance for students who are concerned with liabilities between roommates.

“More information does not mean more crime,” Jackson said. “The reason why we do this is that [students] will take proper precautions.”

Jackson stated that if there are on-going situations, students will be notified via email.

Jackson stressed that campus safety needs the help of students to report crimes as they happen.

“This is not just a job for us, this is our passion,” Jackson said. “Our passion is to make students feel safe, but we need your help with that.”