How UMF is Trying to Improve Safety Across Campus
Jocea Jordan, Contributing Writer
After Title IX issues relating to sexual misconduct occurred across the UMF campus last year and were publicized by Bangor Daily News, changes are being made to safety procedures and policies.
Title IX is a federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs and activities. Under Title IX, discrimination on the basis of sex includes pregnancy discrimination, sexual harassment or sexual violence, such as sexual assault and sexual coercion.
Hope Shore, the Title IX Deputy Coordinator, commented on safety improvements in an email interview. “For my specific area, we are making sure that information about resources, where to report and information about procedures is more visible on campus. Bystander intervention training is being offered frequently on campus with student leaders such as CAs and Orientation Leaders.”
Hope also said, “We are continuing to have good dialogue with faculty, staff and students to make sure everyone is informed on how to report, who to report to, how our process works and information about resources. We will continue to have programs, trainings and events related to prevention, education and information around the areas of Title IX.”
The Campus Police department has recently made some changes to their staff, ensuring that there was a Sergeant accessible for at least 12 hours a day, seven days a week. There are now two Sergeants who work for Campus police and they have a rotating schedule, switching off every weekend.
Sergeant Wayne Drake said, “We restructured the department in such a way that we could hire another sergeant, so I am the Assistant Director of Public Safety and then what we did was hire Marc Bowering, who spent twenty years as the detective in Farmington and recently retired.” The Campus Police department is also the only department that is open seven days a week, 365 days a year.
“Having two sergeants has enabled us to have more continuity, a more consistent response. . . the call boxes have been fixed, the security escorts have been doing their training this week. . . it’s going to be fully staffed and we are running Sunday night through Thursday night to cover all of the classes,” said Drake. The escort program provides students with trained escorts to walk them from any place on campus back to their dorms or other buildings to ensure that they get back safely.
Eila McCulloch, a UMF student and co-president of Look Us In The Eyes (LUITE), a student advocacy group which formed last year in the wake of the BDN articles, noted specific changes she hopes to see in the future to improve the safety of students in messages sent to the Flyer.
“Better lighting, as was discussed last semester, would help prevent a lot of incidents and would help students feel safer at night,” McCulloch said. “Last semester a sexual health course and self defense training classes were offered as ideas and the school seemed to be on board. However, the health course never launched and the self defense class was a two-session course on a Friday night which is an incredibly inconvenient time for many people,” said McCulloch.
The sexual health course in question was proposed last spring by students and was designed to focus on sexual consent, wellness, and healthy relationships. According to community health professor Dr. Kelly Bentley, in comments posted on the LUITE Facebook page, “. . .the courses did not fill. So, the committee will reconvene. Stay tuned!” In another comment she also noted, “[The class] was planned as a pilot. New courses always have lots of planning details to figure out. I believe advocacy is important as it will take a while to figure out the kinks.”
Katerina Burns, who is also the co-president of LUITE, said in messages sent to the Flyer, “ I’m really glad that the University is standing by its position and supporting survivors. . .I am glad that UMF continues to listen, support and provide a sense of affirmation.”
Burns believes that support in the UMF community is vital to helping the campus to become a safer place. “My hope is that President Serna and the school will continue to work with SAPARS and LUITE to make our campus as safe as it can be. A big step in doing that would be getting the [sexual health] class reinstated. Our former group president Amy Fortier-Brown had pushed very hard to have a physical health class that would include topics like consent, healthy relationships and safe sex. I think that would be incredibly useful, especially given the recent Title IX controversies at our school,” said Burns.