Speeches & Writings

Safety and security updates

Dear students, faculty, and staff,

As we begin the spring semester and settle back into our regular routines, I want to take the opportunity to share with you some important updates about our ongoing commitment to improving safety and security around our campuses.

Last fall, we experienced an unfortunate spike in criminal activity in neighborhoods near the Danforth Campus. At that time, I made a commitment to take action, and formed a working group to develop a safety and security action plan to identify areas for improvement and steps we could take to enhance our existing efforts. I’m pleased to tell you the group, under the leadership of Executive Vice Chancellor Hank Webber, has concluded the initial phase of its work and starting today, we’re moving forward with implementing a number of changes, to include the following:

Building a better shuttle system

We’ve made significant enhancements to the transportation options around the Danforth Campus, adding vehicles to the fleet of shuttles that provide a safe option for travel between the Danforth Campus and surrounding neighborhoods. More shuttles mean more routes and shorter wait times, and we’ve also updated our maps and schedules to help riders navigate the system more easily. Some examples of the changes include new shuttles to the Skinker-DeBaliviere and DeBaliviere Place neighborhoods and to South Campus. We’re maintaining the more frequent schedule for Campus2Home implemented last semester, and we’re reducing the wait times to 15 minutes for most other shuttles. You can learn more about these and other improvements to our shuttles atshuttle.wustl.edu.

Strengthening neighborhood partnerships

As part of the working group’s recommendations, we’re increasing patrols in the neighborhoods by adding officers to the Washington University Police Department (WUPD), shifting the WUPD bike patrol unit to the neighborhoods, and adding more security guards. WUPD has also added a community engagement officer this semester, with a focus on assisting students and community members living in off-campus neighborhoods with crime prevention, incident follow-up, and personal safety. In addition to these efforts, we will continue to partner with law enforcement and residents in local jurisdictions to evaluate and respond to safety and security needs in the neighborhoods.

Improving communication

In the event of an emergency or serious crime, we notify members of the university community through a number of communications tools. These can include text messages, email, phone calls, sirens, and a variety of other channels. The working group has recommended some changes to our communications protocol to make notifications simpler and easier to understand. We’ve streamlined the process so there are fewer notification types, and we’re also now offering a way for the Danforth Campus community to “opt in” to messages about activity on or near the Medical Campus, and vice versa. You can learn more and sign up to receive notifications at emergency.wustl.edu.

In addition to these steps, the working group also is closely examining ways the university can contribute to broader efforts to address violence and its root causes in the St. Louis region. As you can probably imagine, this part of the plan will require significant thought and collaboration with other local institutions and civic leaders, and we want to make sure to take the necessary time to consider appropriate steps. So this work continues, and I’m hopeful that we’ll have updates to share before the end of this academic year.

Keeping our community safe remains our highest priority and I’m firmly committed to dedicating time, staff, and resources to enhancing security wherever we can. At the same time, it’s important for all of us to do our part to be aware, stay informed, and make smart choices when it comes to our own personal safety. Ride the shuttles, follow our emergency communications, pay attention to your surroundings, and report suspicious activity to WUPD (314-935-5555) or the local law enforcement agency where you are (dial 9-1-1). Additional information about safety and preparedness is available on the WUPD website.

I wish you all a safe, productive, and happy start to the semester.