UC Officials Look To Ways to Make Campuses Safer

Panel's Discussion Includes Mental Health Services, Disaster Prevention

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SAN FRANCISCO-Citing the need for the university to be a safe environment, university officials identified ways yesterday to improve security across the system's 10 campuses.

A panel of university officials at yesterday's UC Board of Regents meeting at UC San Francisco emphasized mental health services, emergency communications, disaster preparedness and prevention as areas to be analyzed and improved upon in order to achieve better security at UC.

"The university should be prepared to handle a wide range of critical incidences," said Executive Vice President Katherine Lapp.

The presentation elaborated on a report by the UC Campus Security Task Force in January, which recommends ways to increase security for the university in light of emergencies on other campuses such as the shootings at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in April 2007 and at Northern Illinois University in February.

In March hundreds of students were evacuated after a UC Davis student was found to be in

possession of explosives in his residence hall.

Members of the panel yesterday said officials at UC Davis handled the situation well, but the university must seek more funding for programs.

"We have done an excellent job with the resources we've been provided, but in my opinion we can do a much better job," said Karl Ross, UCPD police chief at UCLA. "You can't lock down a campus the size of a small city."

Providing quality mental health services at the campuses was also emphasized as a necessary way to prevent certain emergency situations.

"This is very critical," said Judy Sakaki, the university's vice president for student affairs. "(This) is our first and our best line of defense."

This year, the university provided 3 percent, or $4.6 million, of the student registration fee for mental health services. Some university officials have said they plan to increase funds for these services next year as well.

Wyatt R. Hume, the university's acting chief operating officer and executive vice president for academic and health affairs, said he hopes to achieve the task force's vision of improved security within five years, although he said there must be increased funding for the university.

"It takes time to build the program," he said. "It's also challenging to find the funds."


Angelica Dongallo covers higher education. Contact her at [email protected]

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