Last year, two unexpected events shocked the small, college community of Edinboro, leaving some concerned for their safety, on and off campus. The November 2014 and March 2015 shootings involving Edinboro University students initiated a major response from university leaders.
“Edinboro’s campus and the surrounding community are very safe; the crime statistics reflect that. At the same time, we always want to make it safer and to eliminate crime altogether, ” said Edinboro University of Pennsylvania President Julie Wollman. “That’s why I formed the Blue Ribbon Commission: To bring together the best minds from a range of perspectives to propose ways to make our community even safer.”
Following the shootings, President Wollman created the Blue Ribbon Commission, a 23 member group comprised of Edinboro University faculty, staff, students, local residents and experts from the region in an effort to improve communication, collaboration and safety between the university and the borough.The commission came up with a series of recommendations that have been implemented to help “ensure campus and community safety.”
The school year kicked off with community expectation sessions during Edinboro’s Welcome Weekend for new students. The sessions introduced students to responsible behavior in the larger community, as well as on campus. Both Mayor Brenda Cannell and Patrolman Jerry Lawrence of the Edinboro Police Department spoke to students at welcome weekend events.
“It’s important for students to be aware that they’re living in a place that is home to local families and that the borough welcomes them to become part of a safe and healthy community that reflects the best of small town living,” said Wollman.
In addition, a new and anonymous tip line is up and running. The tip line allows students and residents to report misconduct to the university police, who may also share information to the borough police when necessary. Students and residents can text EUTIP to 50911 or call 732-1TIP (1847).
Director of University Communications Jeff Hileman stated, “The opportunity to provide anonymous tips by phone or text message removes barriers that might discourage people from doing their part in reporting dangerous or illegal activity. It’s convenient and non-threatening.”
An increase in communication and collaboration between the borough and university police is reportedly among those changes. University police now pick up reports from the borough each Monday to help ensure that serious situations can be identified and addressed promptly, as well as in a timely manner.
Another recommendation by the commission was the creation of the Community Coordinating Committee. The committee is comprised of university representatives, business and property owners, elected officials and concerned citizens. The Committee will hold its first meeting Sept. 10 and will reportedly discuss shared information, set priorities and “work as one to lead the way in identifying additional work to be done and finding the resources to achieve it.”
“Many of the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Commission on Campus-Community Safety focus on communication and collaboration. Sharing information is important for heading off situations before they escalate or helping individuals before they get into serious trouble,” added Hileman.
“The more knowledge and cooperation and awareness we all have, the more we can be responsive and proactive,” said Wollman. As the school year begins, students are encouraged to utilize these resources provided by the Blue Ribbon Commission and enjoy a safe start to the school year.
Karlee Dies is the news editor for The Spectator.