College Council talks student safety

By Shardae Smith

College Council met for its second session of the academic year on Nov. 8, in the 1104 Center, 1104 S. Wabash Ave., addressing topics including building updates, campus safety and security and the ongoing discussion of the council’s fate.

The first topic addressed involved the ongoing reflection among the college deans with regard to degree requirements and the need to reduce credit hours among certain majors, according to a report by Louise Love, vice president for Academic Affairs.

“Some majors have gotten very, very huge,” Love said. “This makes it difficult for a student to complete his or her degree in four years.”

There has already been a decrease in the major requirements in the Film and Video Department, and the School of Fine and Performing Arts will lower its requirements as well, according to Love.

Undergraduate students will still need 120 credit hours to complete the degree requirements.

Also on the agenda was a report from Vice President of Campus Environment Alicia Berg regarding an update on the $6 million renovation being done on the facade of the Alexandroff Campus Center, 600 S. Michigan Ave., which will extend through winter. The South Campus Building, 624 S. Michigan Ave., should be completed before winter sets in.

“It’s a lot [of money],” Berg said. ‘It’s a reality. We have to do it to keep ourbuildings safe.”

Berg said the 33 E. Congress Parkway Building, and the 1104 Center, will also undergo a facelift during winter 2010, all which is required by a Chicago city ordinance to keep the buildings up to code.

In addition to the already existing construction, the installation of an enclosed staircase within the Wabash Campus Building, 623 S. Wabash, beginning in summer 2011, will be undertaken in order to meet contemporaryexit requirements.

“Say a fire drill [occurs], we are over capacity in terms of all the people [who] have to get out of all those stairways,” Berg said. “The new enclosed stairway will be installed at the alley side of the building and will cantilever out over the alley.”

Berg said once the stairway is completed, the current fire escapes willbe removed.

Faculty and staff were also curious about the recent bomb threats and voiced their concern during the meeting, but Berg said she wouldn’t state much more than what was addressed in thepublic statement.

“We received a suspicious phone call,” Berg said. “We really did err on the side of caution. So the second [call we received] the next day was not very suspicious and not very seriously taken.”

Love said the incidents amounted to a favor for the college and were “well worth the time it took” allowing the college to practice its safety procedures.

Berg said the incidents caused the college to look at its use of the emergency alert system. The college will hereafter send initial emergency notices using Send Word Now, via phone calls, text messages and e-mails. Any future updates will be placed on the college’s website, which will be

constantly updated.

Vice President of Academic Affairs Mark Kelly also updated the council on steps the college has taken in order to increase student safety within the immediate vicinity because of a recent outburst inviolent activity.

He said another squad car, for a total of two, has been added to patrol the area from 8 p.m. until 4 a.m., and two security guards on Segways will patrol the campus until 4 a.m.

“[We’re] encouraging students to use the buddy system when they leave resident halls late at night,” Kelly said. “… We remain a safe district but we’ve never seen a spate of incidents like what happened in the past several weeks, so we’ve taken a number of steps to make it safe community.”

Berg said the incidents were beginning to happen too frequently and hopefully the college has a good level of coverage now.

Closing the meeting was the fate of the College Council, as previously reported by The Chronicle on Oct. 4.

A proposal about the situation of the current College Council, drafted by Elio Leturia, vice chair of College Council and assistant professor in the Journalism Department, led to an open discussion.

Council members gave proposals for change to the senate, in which all seemed to agree the council needed to be restructured. The existence of the current council will be further discussed during next month’s meeting on Dec. 3.

“I would hate to think that at the end of this year there might be a faculty senate and we don’t know what our role is as a college council,” said John Green, chair of College Council and Theater Department chair.