Armed with maps and clipboards, around 15 students and community members canvassed the Slippery Rock University campus on a hunt Wednesday evening.
This wasn’t your typical scavenger hunt or a search for Easter eggs, but rather a group hosted by the Student and Academic Affairs Committee’s Campus Crawl. The Crawl is the big event of Student Safety Week where potential hazards are identified for the university to fix.
As the sun started to set, the group split into eight small units to cover as much of the 660 acres as possible. Maps of the assigned area and checklists allowed the teams to specify hazards like cracks in the sidewalk or broken equipment.
Vice President of Student and Academic Affairs Leif Lindgren, along with Sen. Leah Bracken, organized the event, which also included SRU administration officials. The walk around allowed the students to reevaluate campus safety and hold the university accountable in getting problems corrected, according to Lindgren.
With most of campus covered, Lindgren, Sen. Caleb Covey, SRU Police Chief Kevin Sharkey and Executive Director of Planning and Environmental Health and Safety Paul Novak walked a lap around the quad. Most of the deficiencies found were the cracks and broken cement of the sidewalks.
Along the route, Novak and Sharkey identified areas where the campus had invested in building improvements and safety equipment.
Looking at one of exterior cameras, Sharkey recalled when the university received a grant for nine outdoor cameras back in 1999. Today, the campus has over 300 cameras throughout campus that provide high quality video. In the future, Sharkey envisions the campus could be watched over with facial recognition cameras allowing the university to locate a specific individual not only by their face but what they are wearing as well.
While highlighting improvements and maintenance the university has done over the past year, Novak said, despite a pandemic, the university works nonstop to fix glaring issues and make plans to get bigger projects accomplished.
“We’ve been fortunate to still be doing jobs with funding how it is,” Novak said.
Even with most students remote this year, many who are on campus contact his office and inform him of safety hazards. That ongoing dialogue is what allows the university to correct problems quickly, Novak said.
As the group gathered back near the waterfall at the Smith Student Center, notes were compared and bigger problems were highlighted.
Madeline Nacey, a sophomore criminology major, and her roommate Zoe Clark were responsible for checking some of the older building on campus. During their search, the most glaring problem found was a broken railing near Weisenfluh Dining Hall.
Others issues the group felt posed an immediate threat to student safety were the lack of screens on external dyer vents, which allowed birds to get in, and thin metal sticking out from the clamps that keep wastebaskets attached to light poles.
Now, Lindgren will sort through the paperwork and present his findings to Novak and the Slippery Rock Student Government Association (SRSGA). The SRSGA presentation will take place during the body’s next formal meeting on April 12.
Gathering up everyone’s clipboards, Lindgren was excited to see what everyone found.
“Doing these walks identifies problems and makes the campus safer for years to come,” Lindgren said.