Wednesday, Nov. 6, UMass Boston held its second annual campus-wide safety walk. The event began at 4:30 p.m. in a meeting room on the second floor of the Campus Center. Students and faculty all filed in, socializing and enjoying the Safety Walk refreshments. Refreshments included fruit, bottles of water, cookies, brownies and cocoa.
Director of Housing and Residential life, John Sears, appeared to be leading the event. Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, Gail DiSabatino was also in attendance, along with representatives from Public Safety, USG president Sam Zeno, many USG student reps, Residence Hall Association president Lily Ting, and several Resident Assistants.
Brief introductions and instructions followed shortly after the majority of students and faculty had entered the meeting room. The instructions were quick, clear and concise; as John Sears stated, the event was “all about efficiency.”
Students and faculty were split up into four teams, with the goal being about 3–4 students and 2–3 faculty members in each group. The groups were assigned to walk through one of four zones on campus, and instructed to take note of anything that stood out to them as needing safety improvements. Sears urged everyone to be as detailed as possible in regards to the area in need of safety improvement, its location, and, if possible, to take a picture of the area. Aesthetic suggestions were also welcome, but were less of a priority.
Following John’s instructions, Gail DiSabatino added that, “the purpose of this … [is that] we make this a better place for everybody.” DiSabatino reiterated that safety was the focus of the walk, but told students to feel free to mention anything else on campus of note that they found.
Just before the groups set out to walk their assigned zones, everyone was told to put on a neon yellow or orange UMass Boston Safety Walk beanie, and gather in the front of the room for a group photo.
Around 4:50 p.m., just twenty minutes after the event began, the four teams were each sent outside along a specific path in search of areas on campus where safety could be improved. It was a brisk and clear night, just after sunset, and teams, easily spotted in their neon hats, split to investigate the campus in the dark. One team noticed trash on campus, lights that had gone out, and broken glass. They also tested some of the blue emergency lights along their path.
Team leaders wrote down the issues that they and other team members found on campus. Once the teams returned to the meeting room in the campus center, they reported the issues to John Sears. The aim was to have the groups all back by 5:15 p.m., spending just 25 minutes outside, but not all groups returned on time.
Despite the fact that not all teams had gotten back to the room, Sears moved forward with the event, beginning the after action review. Sears asked for “sustains and improves,” writing feedback given by the teams on the whiteboard at the front of the room. Those in the groups who returned to the meeting room by 5:15 p.m. were sent on their way right after the review.
Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, Gail DiSabatino, advertised the Safety Walk event in an email sent on Tuesday, November 5th, regarding voting and election day in Boston, and the school’s celebration of first generation students during the week of Nov. 4. In the email, she encouraged student participation in the event, calling the Safety Walk, along with the Student Quad Town Hall, “important to every member of our community.”
Many of the students and faculty in attendance were representing an organization in the UMass Boston campus community. During the event, RA and fourth year student Danielle Nicholson commented on her experience at her first safety walk. When asked how she was liking the event, Danielle responded: “I do like being able to see things that we can improve at this university. It’s very important that we keep everything in accordance and come to terms with what's good for the students here at UMass.”
There were several mentions of continuing the tradition of the event, and of having another Safety Walk during the spring semester.