From the Senate Chairs, A Review of Safety Issues

To: Members of the Faculty Senate
October 6, 1996

Dear Colleagues:

President Rodin and Provost Chodorow met with the Senate Executive Committee to discuss the very serious safety situation at the University. They informed SEC that they have taken the following steps in an effort to reduce, hopefully to eliminate, the recent "crime wave."

  1. Public Safety Interventions--Short-term

  2. Public Safety Interventions--Long-term

Furthermore, the President and Provost announced that they intend to continue to work with the community on the related issues of housing, schools, graffitti, and new business development.

Students, too, have moved beyond the frightened and angry stage. They are counselling one another to "be careful," to walk in groups, and to make sure their doors and windows are closed. They are giving out whistles, establishing "safe houses" within the fraternity structure, enlarging the numbers who participate in "Penn Watch," and are moving on initiatives like "Safety Week."

The Office of Public Safety is working steadily on the problems and the Office of University Life has been working overtime to respond to the concerns of both parents and students, answering each inquiry they receive--there have been hundreds!

We believe these community efforts can be enriched by supportive faculty efforts. Briefly, let us make suggestions in three areas of activity. Some might take a bit of extra time and effort; others very little, but can nevertheless be very meaningful. For example:

A. Students
  1. Take some class time to focus on safety issues.
  2. Invite concerned students to make appointments.
  3. Most important, where appropriate teach about the causes and responses to crime.

B. Outreach
  1. Make contacts with influential individuals in the criminal justice system (lawyers, judges, the mayor, city council persons, agency heads) to let them know the community demands more protection.
  2. Call on friends who have contact with such individuals and enlist their help for a lobbying effort.
  3. Write opinion pieces"op-eds"--bringing scholarly attention to the causes and cures of crime.

C. Institutional
Encourage action-oriented discourse through informal, ongoing forums to increase ongoing awareness of safety issues.

Often, we Faculty Senate Chairs are approached by faculty requesting that we ask for administrative support for a variety of faculty initiatives. At this critical time, the administration, students and staff need our support to help them in whatever way we can. As faculty we need to do more than applaud their swift actions and their long-term efforts to involve Penn in the West Philadelphia community. We can be a resource and a model to students. We can lobby and pressure representatives of the criminal justice system for rapid action against the perpetrators of crime. We can invite discourse in our classes and support students after class. We urge you to assist in meeting the emergency.

Thank you for what we hope will be an impressive show of support from faculty members for the University community's efforts to attack, not just respond to, this crisis that threatens Penn's continued well being.

--Peter J. Kuriloff, Chair

--William L. Kissick, Past Chair

--Vivian Seltzer, Chair-elect


Volume 43 Number 7
October 8, 1996

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