By Ciara Mims
Florida A&M University (FAMU) joins schools across the nation in the observance of National Campus Safety Awareness Month (NCSAM), which features workshops, materials, and resources to encourage open conversation and promote overall campus safety.
“We strive to create a safe environment in which students can excel,” said William E Hudson, Jr., Ph.D.,. vice president for Student Affairs. “The global pandemic makes our task more complicated, but we will spare no effort to create a haven of excellence with caring on the “Hill.”’
According to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Education, 37, 573 criminal offenses were reported in 2018 at institutions and on campuses, across the nation. FAMU is committed to decreasing the number of criminal offenses on its campus.
To promote dialogue among students and FAMU Department of Public Safety (FAMU DPS), the agency will host eight different virtual events during the month of September. The topics to be covered in these workshops include mental health, interpersonal violence (two sessions), hazing, healthy lifestyles, hurricane preparedness, cyber bullying, and substance abuse.
FAMU Police Department Lt. Audrey Alexander said the department reviewed trends, requests, and current events in the U.S. to decide which topics would best benefit the university community. Their theme for NCSAM 2020: “Safety is everyone’s responsibility.”
“We are all in this together,” said Alexander. “We want [students] to know that we are here for them. We are here with them. We are here to provide mentorship, guidance, education – just letting them know that we are apart of the family.”
Another way that students can assist in protecting themselves is to get connected with agencies and organizations that aim to provide safety and work with them, Alexander said. FAMU PD has partnered with other departments and local community leaders to provide these workshops including the FAMU Office of Counseling Services, but it is imperative that students use these resources.
“Arm yourself with knowledge – education,” Alexander urged.
If students educate themselves and become knowledgeable about their surroundings and resources they will know what to do and whom to contact in cases of emergency, crime, sexual assault, etc. Alexander also encouraged students to stay connected with relatives and close friends and to take precautions when entering new spaces.
FAMU PD programs to prevent criminal activity on campus year-round include Operation I.D., Operation Bookstamp, S.A.F.E. (Students Available For Escort) Team, Rape Aggression Defense (R.A.D.), Self Defense Awareness and Familiarization, New Student Orientation, Officer Friendly, and College Crime Watch.
FAMU DPS provides year-round residential and dorm security, drug and alcohol awareness, personal safety tips, identity theft, roommate conflict, sexual assault and date rape presentations, anti-hazing, and information and referral resource for city, county, and university victim/witness programs.
This month-long initiative will include partnerships with several University entities such as the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice, Victim Advocate Program, Office of Student Activities, University Housing, and the Office of Counseling Services, Student Health Services.
The following events will be provided via Zoom:
Impact of Hazing on a University Culture – 6 p.m. September 14.
Healthy Lifestyles – 6 p.m. September 16.
Cyber Bullying – 6 p.m. September 21.
Effect of Substance Abuse – 6 p.m. September 23.
Round Two Interpersonal Violence – 2 p.m. September 29.
Contact FAMU PD 24 hours a day at 850-599-3256. To learn more about FAMU DPS, visit their website.