Safety forum draws few to address new concerns

Sheila Burt

When nine students entered Norris University Center’s Illinois Room for a forum on campus safety Tuesday night, Ald. Elizabeth Tisdahl (7th) said she noticed something different.

“There was a time when this room would have been full,” said Tisdahl, alluding to the heightened safety concerns many students expressed during Fall Quarter.

Tisdahl, who urged students to vote on city issues that affect them, noted that the limited attendance was a sign that safety issues in the city and on campus may be improving. Tisdahl’s ward includes a majority of Northwestern’s campus.

Along with Tisdahl, the forum brought officials from University Police and the Evanston Police Department to discuss student safety concerns. Associated Student Government’s External Relations Committee coordinated the event.

“It’s rare to get both police chiefs and high-ranking (officials) all in the same room addressing the concerns of students,” said Medill senior Meredith Kesner, an ASG off-campus senator and member of the Community Coalition, a new division of the Office of Student Affairs that focuses on city issues that affect students.

UP Chief Bruce Lewis discussed his department’s plans for a safer Dillo Day this May by adding more police officers and emergency medical technicians to on-campus patrols.

UP is also working with Student Affairs in an ongoing assessment of the Escort Service. Lewis said UP may add security officers in golf carts or on foot to improve the service.

ASG President Jane Lee, who helped coordinate the forum, said she hoped that the forum would be the first of others to follow either later in the year or next year.

Although some seats remained empty in the room, students who did attend voiced concerns about increased UP and EPD patrols on Friday and Saturday nights — known as the party patrol — as well as concerns about the possible hikes in fines for possessing fake IDs.

When one student asked about the possible increases in fines for possessing a fake ID, EPD Chief Frank Kaminski said he hopes the hefty fines will make students think twice.

A recently proposed city ordinance would increase the minimum fines for possession of fake IDs from $35 to $200.

Kaminski also reminded students that they live in a city with single-family homes. He recommended that students inform their neighbors if they plan to have a party so they could reach an agreement about noise complaints.

“No one is telling anyone not to have a good time,” he said. “Just remember it’s a different environment. It really is.”