Campus safety: Letter from President Nikias
Dear members of the USC community,
In the wake of the tragic event of April 11, safety and security have been on everyone’s mind, and I want to personally assure you that we continue to be squarely focused on these matters. Although this senseless shooting took place off campus, it touched us all very deeply, and we continue to mourn the loss of two treasured members of the Trojan Family, Ying Wu and Ming Qu.
Since the incident, we have carefully assessed and reviewed all of the university’s safety measures, and have had numerous discussions regarding their enhancement and implementation. Our discussions have included the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and the mayor’s office, and this morning (April 26) we held a joint press conference to describe our safety enhancement plans. USC has a strong partnership with LAPD, and we are very pleased with its resolute efforts to ensure that the person(s) responsible are brought to justice.
I want to share some of these additional safety measures with you, the members of the USC community. At USC, we are heightening the presence of the Department of Public Safety (DPS) by increasing the number of car patrols, as well as three-wheeled vehicle patrols in the surrounding neighborhoods. This includes stepped-up patrols of Jefferson, Figueroa, Vermont, and Exposition. A security ambassador will be redeployed to 28th Street (the Row) to perform a walking patrol from University Avenue to Figueroa Street. Additional officers will be assigned to vans and campus cruiser vehicles to escort students from campus during late night hours.
These safety enhancement initiatives complement steps that will be implemented by the city of Los Angeles and the LAPD. The LAPD will increase the use of the latest cutting-edge tools to combat crime in the southwest division, which includes USC. Among these tools are high-capacity computing and sophisticated algorithms used for predictive policing. Further, the LAPD has committed additional dedicated patrol cars to the area surrounding the University Park campus, and will increase data sharing between DPS and the LAPD. Working with the city, USC will trim trees to reduce the blockage of existing street lighting, and will significantly improve street lighting in key areas.
Moreover, we are stepping up our efforts to continue educating students about safety, reminding them how they can protect themselves in an urban environment. In addition to our extensive programs to orient students and train them on safety, USC is creating websites and orientation sessions to educate students about campus safety and ways they can protect themselves. Our goal has always remained the same: We want our entire community to understand that safety is a shared responsibility, so its members can increase their personal safety no matter where they are in the world.
Also for our students, I want to remind you that USC currently seeks to build up to 5,000 additional student-housing beds. The first phase of the project is the redevelopment of the University Village, and this is expected to provide 3,000 additional student-housing beds, the majority of which will be allocated for graduate students. We hope to begin construction shortly after receiving city approval for the project.
In addition to the measures described above, over the past few years, the university has invested heavily in security enhancements, including video patrol cameras, license plate recognition cameras and security ambassador posts in the neighborhoods surrounding USC. We also recently added new public safety officers.
In closing, I want to reiterate that we sincerely care about each and every one of you, and continue to look for ways to increase your safety at USC. Your well-being remains our absolute top priority.
C. L. Max Nikias