RUSA pushes for greater crime awareness, prevention
Labor board to advocate for student employee rights also on table
The Rutgers University Student Assembly is taking action to revamp the University crime reporting and prevention system, while also trying to advocate for student employees in two separate bills that are currently under review.
The RUSA bill, termed the Campus Crime Prevention Awareness Bill, will start a campaign for collaboration between various student organizations and the Rutgers University Police Department to inform students of all the resources available to prevent crime, said Marilia Wyatt, a RUSA member.
“RUSA [hopes] to maintain a safe and non-hostile environment for the Rutgers community and promote a positive change,” Wyatt said.
She said she proposed the initiative after finding out through RUSA-conducted interviews that many students were unaware of any crime prevention resources other than emailed crime alerts.
Every time there is a crime committed on campus, each student will receive an email regarding the crime, where it took place, and any information that is readily available to the University student body, she said.
Many of the students RUSA spoke to said they found the alerts to be alarming instead of helpful, she said.
Megan Mastrobattista, a School of Arts and Sciences junior, said she often ignores the emailed alerts.
“Crime alerts are nice to know, but we get so many that it becomes more of a nuisance,” she said.
Wyatt said though statistics from 2009-2011 show decreasing numbers of violent crime, there are still too many crimes which could be prevented.
According to the “Public Safety: Safety Matters” handbook, a 66-page manual published online by RUPD, there were three reported cases of rape by acquaintance in 2011, down from 11 in 2009.
Wyatt said RUSA hopes to condense the manual, which includes guidelines and suggestions for safety, as well as statistics on crime, into a short booklet that is easy for students to read.
Wyatt said she also hopes to include campus safety and crime prevention at every semester’s orientation program and develop a Facebook page to inform students.
RUSA also recently tried and failed to create a labor board to monitor student workers, along with faculty and staff unions, said Nat Sowinski, a RUSA member, creator of the original bill.
Sowinski, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, said she proposed the bill last Thursday at a RUSA general body meeting after receiving a number of complaints from students claiming mistreatment in their work environment.
Sowinski said the bill was turned down because certain members expressed concern with the logistics of enacting the plan. The issue will be brought up in later meetings, she said.
John Connelly, president of RUSA, said the bill focuses on students who are employed by the University and would give RUSA the ability to make sure student workers are being treated fairly.
Sowinski said since students are not part of a union, RUSA has to stand up for them.
Jackie McGuckin, a lifeguard for Rutgers College Recreational Services, said her experience working at the University for the past year has been frustrating.
“[It is difficult] working early shifts when the buses hardly run. I can’t drive there for the fear of getting ticketed,” she said. “My name has been mysteriously taken off payroll twice, and I did not get paid when I should have.”
This bill proposes forming permanent relationships between RUSA and the two largest unions on campus, the Association of Federal State County and Municipal Employees and the Union of Rutgers Administrators, Sowinski said.
“[The collaboration will be] a concrete way to find out how workers are treated and how RUSA can help those who aren’t being treated fairly and form an institution where the issues of student [workers] can be addressed,” she said.
Sowinski said if the bill passes, RUSA hopes to conduct surveys of students in order to find out what issues students need addressed.
The bill will be presented again on Thursday, Feb. 7, where RUSA will partake in a re-vote, after speaking directly with the unions, Connelly said.