New Public Safety Policy Could Leave Students Stranded

public safteyDakota Roach –

A new policy has been put into place by Vice President Frank Williams and Director of Public Safety Jeff Regan that could leave Illinois College students without assistance when it comes to car troubles.

The College’s Department of Public Safety recently announced that IC Facilities workers will no longer be allowed to help students jump their vehicles if the battery dies or help students unlock their cars for any reason. Instead, students will be referred to an outside company, whose services will not be covered by the College, leaving any unlucky students with a fifty dollar service fee.

Regan cited “risk management” as the reason for the change. The new policy covers both the Public Safety and Facilities departments, and is currently in effect for what appears to be indefinitely.

According to Regan, these changes have been in the works for quite sometime. At first the change implemented was the introduction of wavers in the 2014-15 school year to release the college of any liability. If a student wanted the help of Facilities, first a waiver had to be signed. The introduction of the waiver system was considered a preemptive measure of protection.

Using his prior knowledge and experience as a state police officer, Jeff Regan began investigating other, less liable ways for students to receive the same services. After speaking with the College’s insurance company and VP Frank Williams, it was mutually agreed that a policy change was needed. It was not until the start of the fall semester that the new policy was introduced, meaning to cover all members of the campus including students, faculty, and staff.

The new policy is absolute, and no exceptions will be made for any reason.

In prior years facilities could jump-start a car or help an unlucky student who locked themselves out of their vehicle. However, risks associated with these procedures such as puncturing or deploying a side airbag or potentially blowing out a car battery or radio, caused concern enough to ban the practice altogether.

Instead, Public Safety will now be referring all students who call for assistance to a local company that will jump or unlock their car for roughly fifty dollars. For many college students, paying fifty dollars to have a car’s battery jumped may not be financially possible.

However, having students take matters into their own hands is not a better option. Regan encouraged students to take precautions when attempting to use jumper cables to start a car on their own.

“Call us,” Regan said when asked what he suggested students who do not have the funds to pay for professional services to do. “We will come and supervise the operation, but we cannot help,” Regan added that neither Public Safety nor Facilities would provide the cables or any other equipment needed to jump or open a student’s car. “Crossing jumper cable wires can be dangerous,” Regan said, “students who do not know what they are doing should not attempt to jump another person’s car.”

Defending the decision to limit Facilities’ ability to help students, Regan remarked that the new policy adopted by IC is very similar to that of other college campuses, and that even the State Police Department would no longer jump or unlock cars for civilians.

When asked if Facilities could still help students with other vehicle-related complications, such as digging a car out of the snow, Regan replied, “Well, yes. We have some shovels back here somewhere students can borrow.”

Public Safety advocated that this new, potential cost for students can be avoided with a few simple precautions.

“Make sure your lights are off; make sure your car is started once a week, especially in winter,” Regan stated. “Make sure you check your vehicle, at least once a week, even if you are not driving it.”

By taking steps to prevent dead batteries and locked doors, Regan hopes there will be few to no incidences of students calling in to report difficulties. Should a student call who is in need of a jump-start or door unlocking, Public Safety will relay the number of a local service professional.

Dakota Roach, from Jacksonville, Illinois, is a junior majoring in English Literature and Creative Writing. Dakota is a Student Ambassador, an active member of CEA and SAGE, and is a writer for The Rambler.

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