Within the month, panic buttons will be installed at North Complex front desks in order to improve the safety of desk workers and the students living in the residence halls.
In the case of an emergency where a student employee is unable to call the police, the buttons allow them to alert the police immediately.
Two new panic buttons were also added last winter break at the front desk of the Muenster University Center and in the Dean of Students office.
In an email interview with The Volante, Jef Rice, UPD Lieutenant, said panic buttons have been used in various buildings at USD over the past 10 years. He said the buildings that have panic buttons were installed because of department requests.
“They will be added to locations that are occupied by desk workers in the residence halls,” Rice said. “For several years they have been utilized in various buildings throughout campus. They were requested by departments as additional safety and security measures.”
Doug Wagner, director of the MUC and student programming, said although the panic buttons have not yet had to be used, they promote safety for the desk workers.
“I think it is a peace of mind,” Wagner said. “It’s not something that we’ve ever had to use thankfully, but I think it provides our student staff the peace of mind that if something goes wrong, they’re not backed into a corner and they can do something about it and they can get help if they need it.”
Rice said so far they have not received any feedback from students, but he said he hopes there is a positive reaction to the addition of panic buttons in North Complex.
“It is our hope they respond positively, as they are designed to enhance the safety and security options at USD,” Rice said. “(Panic buttons are used as) enhancement of the safety and security of the campus community.”
The panic buttons currently installed in the MUC are tested regularly by UPD to ensure they are fully functioning in case of an emergency.
Wagner said UPD has a fast reaction to the button alerts or tests.
“The buttons basically alert UPD that they need to get over here immediately,” Wagner said. “Their response time is good, they’re usually here within three to five minutes.”
All student employees have been trained on how to use the panic buttons. Leah Jeseritz, a senior biology major and a front desk worker in North Complex, said she doesn’t know if the buttons will impact students.
“I don’t think it is going to make a difference unless there is someone with a gun walking in. It’s not going to make a difference,” Jeseritz said. “I think it is nice to have, but I feel like you can dial 911 just as fast, so I don’t think the residence will see an impact anyway.“
University Housing declined an interview with The Volante for this story.