NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – For JerMilton Woods, it is personal when it comes to campus safety and the well-being of his fellow students, especially when he thinks about outsiders coming on campus to cause problems.
“This is a great university that has been very good to me,” Woods said. “Anything I can do to protect its good image and keep my fellow students safe, I am willing to do it.”
The sophomore Human Performance and Sports Sciences major has joined about 25 other schoolmates as part of the Student Safety Patrol, a volunteer group of male and female students providing safe escort for other students across campus.
The patrol is drawn from fraternities, sororities, service organizations and other related campus groups. It is part of Tennessee State University’s 10-Poing Safety Enhancement Plan announced by President Glenda Glover on Oct. 30 to assure students, parents, alumni, and the public they are safe and secure on campus.
At a ceremony on the main campus Monday, Nov. 16, group members were sworn-in after completing training in observation, reporting and escorting techniques. The volunteers will work in two-hour shifts between 6 p.m. – midnight. Assignments will vary between “Fixed Post” and “Safe Escort Across Campus.” They will wear specially designed uniforms that distinguish them from the general student population, and carry equipment such as whistles, flashlights and radios.
“It is truly personal for me to be a ‘vocal point’ on campus safety,” Woods said after taking the oath to protect his fellow students. “Anytime that I can give back to my university that has given me so much, that is enough for me.”
“I have a vested interest to see this campus safe,” added Tariq Muhammad, a sophomore Agricultural Science major and a member of the SSP. “We want to take back our campus and one way of doing that is by taking the initiative of patrolling our campus ourselves.”
According to Frank Stevenson, coordinator of the Student Safety Patrol, the goal of the programs is to provide safe transport to students across campus and to create opportunities for “peer engagement” in student safety.
“This program will allow students to have true ownership into a safer TSU campus,” Stevenson said. “The intend is to provide safe escorts for our campus community so that no one has to travel alone in isolated areas of campus and/or after dark. The Student Safety Patrol will provide extra eyes and ears for a safer campus.”
Assistant Vice President for Communications and Public Relations Kelli Sharpe congratulated the students on behalf of President Glover, who was away on business.
“We see the Student Safety Patrol as extra eyes and ears on campus safety,” Sharp said. “We commend these students for taking on such an initiative to make sure their fellow students are safe on campus.”
The establishment of the SSP comes on the heels of the recent opening of a police satellite station in the campus center. Also, Metro Nashville Police are teaming up with TSU Police Department to provide more campus coverage. In addition, students, faculty and staff are mandated to visibly wear their university-issued ID badges.
In announcing the Safety Enhancement Plan, Glover said the primary objectives of the Student Safety Patrol are to provide TSU campus safety escorts and transports; observe and report suspicious and unusual activity to police; and provide an active presence. While membership is voluntary with no pay, applicants must be in good academic standing, exhibit good character, maintain good conduct, commit at least two hours per week, and must have genuine concern about safety on campus. In return members receive credit for community service, a certificate of recognition, and internship credits.
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With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.