Student Health and Safety
After months of extensive review of best practices across the country, the University of Kentucky announced that in fall 2014 it will extend its Code of Student Conduct off campus as part of a comprehensive approach to ensuring student safety and strengthening relationships with neighborhoods.
That recommendation, which will be implemented over the next several months, is one of several adopted by President Eli Capilouto following an extensive review by a diverse 16-member committee, which included representatives from the University of Kentucky, Bluegrass Community and Technical College (BCTC), Lexington city government and neighborhoods surrounding UK.
Upon release of the report, President Capilouto said, “Our first priority is the safety of our students and the community we serve. At the same time, we want to build on the strong relationships we have with our neighbors and the broader community. This report, the work of so many people on our campus and in Lexington, is another important step in building an enduring, mutually beneficial relationship of trust and candor."
To oversee the next steps, President Capilouto formed a standing 15-member Health and Safety Task Force and Implementation Committee -- comprised of university administrators, faculty, staff, students, and representatives from surrounding neighborhoods, city government and Bluegrass Community and Technical College.
The Implementation Committee will convene in May and meet throughout the summer 2014 in a run-up to the fall when many of the recommendations are expected to be implemented. The committee is being chaired by Robert Mock, UK's vice president for Student Affairs.
A summary of recommendations from the Workgroup on Student Health and Safety includes:
- Expanding the Code of Student Conduct beyond campus boundaries. Several other campuses, including The Ohio State University, have expanded their Code of Student Conduct as part of an effort to improve safety and community relations.
- Revising the university's alcohol policy to allow consumption on campus under predetermined guidelines and conditions. Only people who are of legal age (students, employees and visitors) would be allowed to consume alcohol in prescribed places on campus.
- Developing an active enforcement task force ― composed of Lexington and campus police, the UK Office of Student Conduct and Bluegrass Community and Technical College’s Student Affairs ― to coordinate reporting and handling of violations of the student code of conduct if, and when, they occur.
- Instituting a medical amnesty policy within the Code of Student Conduct for reporting instances of substance abuse or potentially dangerous situations.
- Encouraging students who live off-campus to establish positive relations with neighbors and neighborhoods and providing more formal opportunities for town forums for both UK and the broader community to exchange ideas and discuss concerns.
- Developing a more formalized, year-round community service program focused on near-campus neighborhoods.
- Rehabilitating and leasing university-owned houses and apartments in adjacent neighborhoods to faculty and staff.
- Improving and increasing student-focused prevention and education programs throughout campus and the surrounding community.
The workgroup was formed last year as an outgrowth of several conversations Capilouto had with neighborhood representatives regarding ways to strengthen town-gown relations. The group examined several reports and policies from other universities, including Ohio State, Georgia and Auburn, and conducted interviews with national experts on campus safety and substance abuse issues.
Although not isolated to concerns regarding parties, off-campus alcohol use, in particular, has been a perennial issue for many years even before UK revised its alcohol policy in 1997. Statistics regarding alcohol usage and violations of law have been cyclical, according to the report, which reviewed years of data regarding arrests and other violations before and after the 1997 decision. But it is clear from the data that keeping the campus "dry" has not resulted in students drinking less; it's only changed where they drink, the data demonstrate.
The composition of the Health and Safety Task Force and Implementation Committee includes:
- Robert Mock, Vice president for Student Affairs, chair
- Andrew Smith, Director of UK's Office of Substance Education and Responsibility
- 3rd District Council representative
- Neighborhood representative
- UK Faculty
- UK Police
- University Relations
- UK Counseling Center
- UK Athletics
- Assistant Vice President for Public Safety
- Student Government
- Greek governing councils
- Bluegrass Community and Technical College
- Lexington-Fayette Urban-County Government Public Safety Commissioner
- UK HealthCare
- Office of Student Conduct
- Office of Risk Analysis and Process Improvement