Editorial: Transparency is the key to better security

The Annual Security Report was released last week. The report is worth checking out; within it are crime statistics from last year, as well as a comparison to prior years.

While the various departments and offices involved in security have made some important strides in communication, we think there is still work to be done.

One of the departments involved was the Division of Public Safety. Last year, when lack of communication prompted both university leaders and student groups to call for a change, the Division of Public Safety, along with other offices, listened and responded to concerns. The editorial board commends the division for working with student organizations to tweak their system of alerting the campus community of threats on campus.

Before, it was unclear to campus members at which point an alert for a threat was worth sending out; reporting only threats that have been thoroughly confirmed would lead to a lack of timely information. We realize that notifying the campus of every single threat would result in so many alerts that people might begin to think they are false alarms. So, we were happy to see that after speaking with student groups, a middle ground has been reached. Now, the campus community is notified of significant threats, even if it’s unclear what the threat is, and updating the campus about ongoing investigations.

It was exciting to see various members of campus come together to develop a compromise that will help address our campus’ problem with lack of security alerts. However, there is still work to be done with regards to security notifications.

One key area of discussion is transparency about off-campus security threats and crime reports. While it is unrealistic to expect the Division of Public Safety to report everything that happens off-campus, students, staff and faculty should still be notified about criminal reports and threats that occur in close proximity to campus. Last year, we were disappointed when a kidnapping in the parking lot next to the Cleveland Institute of Art prompted no communication. 

Another area we think could benefit from more transparency is transportation on campus. We need to either use a more accurate tracking system for the shuttle system, or admit that the current system is inaccurate. Currently, campus members are expected to use the NextBus app, but it’s no secret that it doesn’t track the shuttles accurately.  

As a result, it can be difficult to tell whether a shuttle is actually going to arrive or not. Campus needs a form of transportation that can be reliably tracked so that individuals don’t have to spend nights feeling unsafe as they trek across campus.

Last semester provided us with another great example where communication and transparency could have saved campus from a lot of confusion; the North Loop shuttle stop was moved from directly outside the Kelvin Smith library all the way to Euclid Avenue. Since this change affected the safety of campus members, there should have been a larger discussion regarding it.

Living on a city campus will always come with its security challenges. One of the best ways to combat these challenges is to ensure that members of our community are regularly supplied with accurate, timely information about security threats on campus.

We’ve made excellent steps in the right direction, but in order to continue improving, we need to keep talking about security.