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University awaiting safe campus designation by January

The American Safety Council visited Murray State in early October to decide if the University should be named a “safe campus”. Don Robertson, vice president of Student Affairs, said it is likely the University will be the third university to receive the national title.

The title is usually given to communities, not individual universities.

Two organizational reviewers, Debora Biggs from Springfield, Mo., and Grace Silander from Rainey River, Canada, came to campus Oct. 9 and 10 to verify if the University meets all the Safe Community criteria.

According to a recent study by the National Safety Council, a Safe Community is defined as a place where all sectors of the community form a coalition to promote safe and healthy behaviors that protect residents from harm in all aspects of their lives.

Most “Safe Communities” included in the study had significantly lower fatal injury rates than comparable counties.

The two professionals did a comprehensive review of various aspects of the campus including public safety, residential halls, emergency management and health services. David Fender, professor of health science and human services, and staff from the office of Student Affairs, accompanied them.

Robertson and Fender said the reviewers reacted positively.

“They were very impressed with what they saw here,” Robertson said. “Without reservations they are recommending to their governing bodies that we be designated as a ‘Safe Community.’”

Robertson said the review showed the strengths and weaknesses of safety at?Murray?State.

“The team stated that we were the most organized of any group they had visited,” Fender said. “The reviewers have made a recommendation that Murray State be approved and we have set a date of Dec. 7 for the official designation. A representative from the National Safety Council will be here to present the designation to (President Randy) Dunn.”

These reviews are typically focused on communities rather than college campuses, but two other college campuses have also been deemed safe. Those two include the University of Southern California at Los Angeles in Los Angeles, Calif., and Emory University in Atlanta, Ga.

The American Safety Council’s next step is to come to Murray State at the first of the year, when they will give a formal ceremony of the designation.

Bonnie Higginson, vice president of Academic Affairs, said the designation would be beneficial to the University in several ways.

“It may entice parents to send students here and it’s a positive endorsement of our University and might enhance our recruiting efforts,” Higginson said. “But the most important part of this is that we are safe and we will remain to be.”

Story by Alex Berg, Staff writer.