Fairfield University to receive the national 2008 Jeanne Clery Campus Safety Award



Fairfield University has been selected to receive the 2008 Jeanne Clery Campus Safety Award, presented each year by Security On Campus Inc. (SOC), in memory of Jeanne Clery. The national award, established in 1994 by Howard and Connie Clery in memory of their daughter who was murdered on a college campus in 1986, honors schools and individuals “that have done extraordinary things to make college and university students safer.” The award will be presented on Monday, Nov. 17 at 3 p.m. in the office of Jeffrey von Arx, S.J., University president in Bellarmine Hall.

While there have frequently been three recipients of the award, this year Fairfield University is the only university to be honored. In a letter announcing that Fairfield had been selected, Jonathan Kassa, Executive Director of SOC wrote, “We have selected your institution for its innovative programs, comprehensive emergency response plan, and overall commitment to your peer education and prevention programming, and a unique study abroad travel safety program. Kassa and Alison Kiss, SOC program director, will be at Fairfield to present the award.

In acknowledging Fairfield’s selection for the award, Father von Arx, S.J., said, “We are honored to be selected for this distinguished award that the Clery family instituted in response to their daughter’s tragic death, in the hope that it would inspire campuses across the country to be vigilant in protecting their students. I commend the many people on campus, including those in the areas of public safety and student affairs, for their ongoing efforts to continually reevaluate and implement safety measures."

Approximately 20 Public Safety officers, who are certified as Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) and CPR Instructors, patrol the campus 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. They are also certified as “Supplemental First Responders” for the Town of Fairfield.

The Travel Safety Orientation Program for students planning to study abroad, one of the initiatives highlighted by Jonathan Kassa, was introduced by Todd Pelazza, director of Public Safety at Fairfield. The program covers tips such as how and what to pack, the importance of learning local laws and customs, recording credit card toll free numbers and knowing the closest hospital, police station and friendly embassy.

Pelazza says, “We try to cover all the possible challenges that could arise for students when they are in another country and provide them with some tools for handling the unexpected. We work from the position that ‘good planning reduces risk.’”

The most recent initiatives taken by the university include the creation of emergency frequency channels that are shared with First Responder agencies and the acquisition of “priority service” with Nextel Phone carrier, allowing the university’s Incident Management Team the ability to maintain communication in the event of an overload of usage during a crisis. The university also contracted for a new emergency notification system through Connect-Ed and replaced all classroom doors with new locking mechanisms that may be secured from the interior of the rooms for lock down purposes.

In addition, Fairfield’s Dispatch and Communications Center has been updated with new technology and equipment and a Training Room and Operations Center have been added.

However, the strategy for campus safety is not limited to official responders. Fairfield conducted a series of information sessions to train faculty and staff on what to do in an emergency and the training continues for new hires during employee orientation. Resident assistants and Area Coordinators, often on the “front line” in emergencies, have been equipped with portable radios, giving them the ability to communicate directly with the Department of Public Safety Dispatch.

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on November 4, 2008

Vol. 41, No. 111