Flames: The Importance of Making Students Feel Safe

Flames: The Importance of Making Students Feel Safe

In this week’s issue, we interviewed Denise Vencak, the new executive director for Public Safety. Vencak spoke in part about the measures Public Safety implements to create a secure environment for students, stating that she hopes they all feel safe when they are here.

We are glad that this is a priority for our Public Safety officers.

Due to the dangerous situations that have taken place in the past on campuses and other public places nationwide — be it violent demonstrations or mass shootings — feeling comfortable and secure seems almost like a privilege.

These measures assure students that as long as they are on a St. John’s campus, there are a number of safeguards in place.

For instance, those who dorm can rest easy knowing that once the Resident Safety Monitor student finishes his or her shift at 11 p.m., a Public Safety officer takes over. Outside visitors must also leave all campuses by 11 p.m., which is when all the gates close as well.
According to Vencak, Public Safety officers aspire to not only bolster campus security, but also want to assure students that they are there for them. “Public Safety is part of the University community, we’re not part of the NYPD, we’re not part of any outside agency.” Vencak said, emphasizing the difference between Public Safety and the NYPD.

Many students have developed great relationships with the officers that guard us; who can forget Gerald “Jerry” Anthony Alfano, the retired public safety officer the Torch featured in our April 27, 2016 Flames editorial.

Vencak also mentioned that while she believes relations between students and Public Safety officers are amicable, they can still be improved. She has even welcomed student groups to meet with her to discuss any concerns they may have– opening this bridge of communication is undoubtedly a great start to accomplishing this. It is also a promising beginning to Vencak’s tenure as head of Public Safety.

She calls for trust from students; as students, we call for transparency and openness from our University’s administrators. We believe that when this balance is struck, it makes for an ideal experience.