NACOGDOCHES, Texas — Stephen F. Austin State University is one of the safest colleges in America, according to a recent report from the National Council for Home Safety and Security.
The council, a trade association comprising home security professionals across the U.S., based its report on data from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting and the Campus Safety Security Survey.
According to the council, nearly all accredited U.S. institutions were considered, and a list of the 100 safest campuses in the nation was compiled. Only nine Texas schools are on the list: Texas A&M University-Commerce (No. 33), Texas Woman’s University (No. 40), the University of Texas at El Paso (No. 41), the University of North Texas (No. 48), Texas A&M University (No. 49), SFA (No. 55), Tarleton (No. 57), Texas State University (No. 80) and the University of Texas at Arlington (No. 84).
Through the use of innovative technology efforts, prevention trainings and more, SFA’s Department of Public Safety provides police, parking, safety technology and emergency management services 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“It takes community teamwork to create a safe living and learning environment,” said Marc Cossich, executive director of public safety and chief of police at SFA. “Parents can feel comfortable sending their family members to SFA, and community members can feel safe attending the range of events on campus.”
DPS employs 28 police officers who work closely with local, state and federal agencies to provide a safe environment. Officers provide 24-hour patrol protection on campus, including all parking lots, residence halls, and administration and academic buildings. University police officers are vested with all powers, privileges and immunities of peace officers within the county.
“To truly make a campus safe, it takes the entire community,” Cossich said.
Approximately 300 yellow emergency call boxes are located throughout campus to provide people with a direct line to the DPS communications center. The boxes can be utilized to request police assistance and escorts or report vehicle trouble. At SFA, more than 900 surveillance cameras are in operation, and there are about 80 automated external defibrillators positioned on campus.
The SFA community also has access to personal alert systems: JackAlert and Lumberjack Guardian. JackAlert notifies of possible threats and dangers on campus, such as inclement weather or serious crimes. This notification system sends alerts through text message, voice call, email, Facebook, Twitter and on TVs connected to the campus cable provider. To register, SFA students and employees can log in to mySFA and select “Register to get Campus Alerts.”
Likewise, the Lumberjack Guardian mobile app enhances campus safety through real-time interactive features to create a virtual safety network of friends, family and DPS officers. Features include a panic button, tip texting to report crimes anonymously, personal guardians and safety timer, and a safety profile.
Services are in place to help people travel across campus safely. In 2012, the Parking and Traffic Division of the university’s DPS began offering an evening shuttle. This shuttle operates from 5:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. Sunday through Thursday weekly during the fall and spring semesters and on special occasions, following a 15-minute route through campus. The shuttles are ADA-compliant and wheelchair accessible. To see the shuttle schedule, visit nextbus.com. People also can request a police escort from campus buildings to shuttle stops.
Prevention trainings are key in keeping the SFA community safe and prepared. Trainings are varied and include courses on alcohol, drug and sexual assault awareness; office, residence hall and personal safety; travel risks; and more.
For more information on the DPS, visit sfasu.edu/dps.