SGA to host first campus safety panel

Mitchell Walker, Chief of Police for the WKUPD, listens during the Campus Safety Panel on Feb. 28. The event, hosted by the Student Government Association, was put on to discuss ways to make the WKU campus for students, faculty, and visitors.

Nicole Ziege

Several campus officials will be featured panelists for the Student Government Association’s first Campus Safety Panel Wednesday, Feb. 28.

SGA campus improvements committee chair Garrett Edmonds said the idea for the panel was a joint effort between his committee and SGA President Andi Dahmer. He said when he became committee chair last fall, he had never heard about the campus safety walks the former SGA campus improvements committee chair hosted. Edmonds said it has been to cold to host a safety walk since he took office.

“I thought another way to get more students to come and participate would be a panel,” Edmonds said. “Who doesn’t love to just put pressure on faculty and ask them questions on the spot and give input right there on the spot?”

Jennifer Tougas, director of parking and transportation services, will be one of the speakers. She said she has participated in safety walks in the past but supports the idea of a panel.

“I think if it’s a way for students to express their concerns or ask questions to the panel members, then I think it will be very productive,” Tougas said.

Tougas said safety is a priority for WKU, and the university has several safety programs.

“It really looks like there are a lot of good things that we’re doing on campus, and it’s not only physical safety,” Tougas said, citing sexual assault awareness programs, drug and alcohol awareness programs and counseling and testing services. “It’s a pretty comprehensive program with everything from personal safety to physical safety.”

Chief Facilities Officer Bryan Russell will also speak at the panel. He said he was asked to participate on the panel by fellow panelist David Oliver, the director of environmental health and safety at WKU.

Russell said there are always areas on campus that his department is looking to improve. He said he and his department are constantly making improvements, but they can’t always accommodate students’ requests.

“Some things are out of our control,” Russell said.

Edmonds said the panel is important because it gives students the opportunity to see who is helping protect their safety.

“All the faculty attending have really been needing student input, and they’re just not getting it,” Edmonds said.

The other panelists include Vice President of Student Affairs Brian Kuster, Chief Diversity Officer Lynne Holland and WKU Police Chief Mitch Walker.

Edmonds said he has spoken to both Kuster and Oliver, and they both liked the idea of a campus safety panel.

“I really haven’t gotten to talk to the other faculty members extensively, but after talking to Brian [Kuster] and Mr. Oliver, they’re both on board,” Edmonds said. “They say the same thing: the faculty really wants the student input right now with the changes that are coming to Western.”

The panel will be at 5 p.m. Wednesday in the Senate Chambers on the second floor of Downing Student Union. Chick-fil-A will be provided.

News reporter Nicole Ziege can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected] Follow Nicole Ziege on Twitter at @NicoleZiege.