UPD Chief reveals staffing shortage at Student Government meeting

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UPD Chief reveals staffing shortage at Student Government meeting

 A UPD officer stands as a guard over Texas State University's Quad.

A UPD officer stands as a guard over Texas State University's Quad.

Marina Bustillo Mendoza

A UPD officer stands as a guard over Texas State University's Quad.

Marina Bustillo Mendoza

Marina Bustillo Mendoza

A UPD officer stands as a guard over Texas State University's Quad.

Sierra Martin, News Reporter

Student Government welcomed guest speakers Monday, Oct. 21 from the Office of Equity and Inclusion and the University Police Department.

Student Senators voted to approve legislation supporting students employed by the university and implementing digital student identification.

The eighth session of the Student Government meeting began with a moment of silence to honor the female student who died on campus at Laurel Hall Sunday, Oct. 20.

Chief Diversity Officer and Director of Equity and Inclusion Ameerah McBride and Deputy Title IX Coordinator Kendra Wesson spoke about recently made updates to the Sexual Misconduct Policy. The Office of Equity and Inclusion has allowed easier reporting for Title IX offenses like sexual assaults, sexual harassment and stalking for students and university staff.

UPD Chief Laura Clouse spoke to student senators about what the department has accomplished with its safety initiatives in the past nine months in response to the peer review completed by university students.

Clouse addressed the SafeRide Program, initiated Oct. 7, that offers free rides to students from 10:30 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. seven days a week. Student senators expressed concerns with inconsistencies in UPD’s SafeRide program like long response times and erratic operating hours.

According to data shared by Clouse, SafeRide has over 600 active accounts, an average response time of eight minutes and provides about 1,300 rides to over 1,700 passengers.

Clouse said 80% of current UPD staff have completed Allies Training, teaching UPD officers to eliminate myths, misconceptions and stereotypes often associated with the LGBTQ+ community.

Clouse said the department has been unable to hire an officer specializing in mental health issues due to the fact the department is suffering from a staff shortage.

“There were some serious culture shifts and changes that had to occur at UPD; we wanted to hold (officers) to our standards and as a result, there have been people who left the department and we have added personnel as well,” Clouse said. “Right now, we are operating at a minimum staffing level, which means we are extremely short-staffed.”

According to Clouse, it takes over a year to train UPD officers to ensure they understand how to work in a university environment as opposed to regular police training.

Diversity Week will take place on campus Oct. 25-Nov. 2 and include interactive activities, speakers, film viewings, panels and drag karaoke. A full schedule of events and information on how to get involved can be found on the Student Government website.

The resolution “Cabinet Compensation Act” was tabled for further review of the proposed amendments. The legislation plans to provide monetary or incentive compensation to student senators investing more time into their position in addition to mandatory duties. According to the legislation, cabinet members can receive parking passes, credit toward service requirements or monetary compensation should Student Government duties cut into time cabinet members would use to work, go to class or participate in extracurricular activities.

The resolution “Establishment of the Subcommittee for Student Labor Relations and Representation” passed unanimously. The decision will create a subcommittee dedicated to providing student workers on campus an organization to listen and advocate for their interests if employed by the university.

The legislation, “A Resolution in Support of Implementing Digital Student Identification” passed unanimously. It calls upon Auxiliary and ID Services to implement a digital student ID that can be accessed from their personal devices. According to Student Senator Cody DeSalvo, author of the legislation, it will allow students to access their dorms and dining services digitally without the need for a physical ID.

The confirmation of Hunter Rollins as senator-at-large was passed by the Senate. Rollins has been a student senator before and wants to advocate for students again. Additionally, Tegan Debrock was approved as a student senator-at-large. Debrock started his own nonprofit organization to help the homeless population in San Marcos prior to joining Student Government. Debrock said he wants to represent transgender and minority students through his role.

Student Government meetings take place every Monday at 7 p.m. in the LBJ Teaching Theater and are open to the public. To view past legislation, future proposals and learn more about Texas State’s Student Government, visit its website.

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