After the publication of a critical article in TechNews’s last issue and a subsequent meeting between the Illinois Tech Public Safety Department and newspaper staff, the campus security organization expressed a desire to alter some of its practices in response to the concerns raised in TechNews. Andy Yocum, the new Director of Public Safety, stated that Public Safety will no longer draw strict lines past which students are told not to travel, and will instead focus more intently on encouraging safe behaviors for city living and developing a more nuanced understanding of our campus surroundings among the student body. Additionally, Yocum expressed interest in implementing new feedback methods from students, entertaining the possibility of establishing a student-led advisory board for Public Safety, and holding occasional crime summary meetings styled after the Chicago Police Department’s Community Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS) program.
Yocum reached out to TechNews in response to an opinion article titled “Stop telling students not to go south of 35th (yes, that means you),” which was published in the August 28, 2018 edition of the student paper. Expressing a desire to introduce himself as a new administrator and to involve outside voices in the process of revising Public Safety’s Student Orientation Advisement and Registration (SOAR) presentation, he asked to set up a meeting with TechNews staff. The newspaper sent its Editor-in-Chief, Ethan Castro, and the author of the original article, Soren Spicknall.
The meeting covered a wide range of topics: The trio confronted definitions of the area surrounding Illinois Tech that Spicknall’s initial piece described as “entirely uninformed,” discussed the way that different campus offices oversee the public statements of its staff members, and devised a few ways that Public Safety could improve its student feedback methods in a productive fashion. Yocum issued an official statement on behalf of Public Safety following the gathering: “The Department of Public Safety recognizes that it is neither productive nor beneficial to suggest firm boundaries on where students should and should not go. We would, however, remind students to research their destination to ensure they know how to get there safely and, as always, maintain an awareness of the surrounding environment at all times.”
Yocum expressed that, while new feedback methods are in the process of being planned, proposed, and implemented, students are welcome to talk with him in his office in 3424 South State Street (the space formerly occupied by Shimer College) or to email him at [email protected]