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Appalachian’s Trustees Discuss Campus Safety

BOONE – Appalachian State University’s Board of Trustees discussed campus safety during their meeting held Dec. 2.

Members of the board’s student development committee were briefed by university staff, university police and the Boone police chief regarding safety and security on campus and the community.

Recent media reports citing self-reported statistics from the Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act regarding the number of drug-related referrals to Appalachian’s Office of Student Judicial Affairs also was discussed in detail.

“We are aware that college is a time when students are spreading their wings and may make some bad choices,” said Cindy Wallace, interim vice chancellor for student development. “Our intent is to educate them through that process, keep them safe, and let them know there are consequences to their actions,” Wallace said.

As a result, Wallace explained, Appalachian takes a more proactive stance in addressing drug use on campus. “Our residence hall staff are empowered to file incidence reports regarding suspected drug use on campus. In fact, they are obligated to do that,” she said. “That is a very big difference from some other college campuses.”

“The trustees are extremely pleased with the seriousness and commitment demonstrated on the part of these individuals and their organizations for the overall safety of the campus community and the welfare of Appalachian students,” said Robert Fox, chairman of the board, in a statement issued by the board following the presentation.

“There is an excellent working relationship among Appalachian’s administration, campus police, the Boone Police Department and the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office. All parties said that they believe there are no indications that safety issues or drug use are more prevalent on this campus than on any other campus in America,” he said.

Trustees discussed the lack of consistent or mandated guidelines across the UNC System for reporting these Clery Report numbers, which makes it problematic to use them to compare levels of drug use on the various campuses.

They also were briefed on initiatives from the UNC System’s Task Force on the Safety of the Campus Community that include use of standardizes admissions applications, creation of a campus safety committee on each campus, training to help university personnel identify and respond to applicants or students who may pose a threat to the safety of the campus community, and regular threat assessments, inventories of current safety practices and resources, and safety climate surveys conducted on each campus.

“We believe that Appalachian State University is doing the right thing by its students in its efforts to address one of society’s greatest threats, regardless of the consequences that may occur if those efforts are misinterpreted in public,” Fox said.

“This aggressive approach will lead to higher reporting numbers. We continue to support aggressive efforts by university, Town of Boone, and Watauga County law enforcement officials to identify, arrest and prosecute those engaged in providing and selling illegal drugs,” he said.