The ceilings of the halls of the dorm buildings on the campus of Seward County Community College/Area Tecnical School are lined with security cameras to help ensure students’ safety. Safety and Security Supervisor Dennis Mulanax says the department is in the process of purchasing more cameras for campus.
By ELLY GRIMM
• Leader & Times
The U.S. Department of Education recently released a list of 55 colleges and universities under investigation for possible Title IX violations. Title IX is the federal law that ensures women’s athletics are treated equally in universities, and part of that law covers how schools should handle sexual assault cases.
The list included schools such as Oklahoma State University, Carnegie Mellon University, Franklin and Marshall College and Pennsylvania State University.
While Seward County Community College was not on the released list, SCCC/ATS Safety and Security Supervisor Dennis Mulanax said the school’s campus security is always vigilant about sexual assaults when they are reported.
“In our student orientation classes, we promote that students do the same. One of our sayings is that ‘This is our campus. We are here to learn how to save the future; not destroy it. Report all suspicious and criminal activity,’” Mulanax said. “We have other sayings as well, but the point being is that we try to continue to promote a crime-free campus, and that we don’t tolerate it.”
Between 2010 and 2012, there were only five cases of sex crimes reported, according to campus security statistics, and Mulanax added that this year, there was a decrease in sex crimes reported from last year. He said the previous year’s offenses were related to one specific individual who was arrested, charged and removed from campus.
“Another reason for the decrease is we believe the awareness to it. We do not tolerate behavior that is offensive, criminal or harassment,” Mulanax said. “Through education and awareness, we have put the emphasis on taking action and solving problems and, therefore, getting positive results.”
Mulanax also talked about several preventative measures that the college takes, including surveillance cameras posted inside and outside, assistants in the dorms, and campus security with 24/7 coverage.
“We encourage our faculty and staff to develop an approachable relationship with all students in order to make them feel recognized and safe,” Mulanax said.
The college also requires mandatory student orientation classes for students to attend, which teach students needed basic topics.
Mulanax admitted due to sex crimes’ disturbing natures, they are not always reported. However, he emphasized encouragement in reporting sex crimes.
“We realize that we are not, and will not, be a totally crime-free campus. We can only respond to what is reported to us,“ he explained. “Our procedure is to investigate fully, and we gather all the evidence there is to gather, and most often, refer this to law enforcement for criminal charges to be filed.”
The choice to pursue criminal charges, Mulanax said, remained up to the victim of sex crimes.
“We encourage full investigation in order to make sure rules of evidence are followed and that the incident is officially investigated for reference if later questioned, and the victim later changes their decision to go ahead and file a charge,” he said.
Mulanax said from his experience as a law enforcement officer for 23 years, he considered the campus extremely safe.
“My children went to college here and I’d send my grandchildren here, too,” he said. “Is it 100 percent crime free? No. But this college has the most easily reportable methods there are...and if there is anything we can do to make it better, we would. As an ex-police officer and a parent of four children that have attended this campus, it is safe.”
SCCC/ATS was also recently ranked 33 in the nation among college campuses, and Mulanax said a great deal of that comes from campus security officers, faculty and staff caring about the students.
“I like to think that when I took this job, I became a parent to 1,850 more people,” Mulanax said. “I don’t know of any other instructor who doesn’t basically feel the same as I do.”
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