How the syllabus can help keep students safe

University of Utah and Missouri State now include safety statements on every class syllabus
By: | Issue: October, 2019
September 23, 2019
Students discuss campus safety at The University of Utah. Each class syllabus distributed at the school now contains the phone number for campus police and information about receiving emergency notifications.Students discuss campus safety at The University of Utah. Each class syllabus distributed at the school now contains the phone number for campus police and information about receiving emergency notifications.

One of the best places to outline campus safety information may be on a type of document that’s in the hands of every student, whether they spend most of their time on campus, commute to class or study remotely.

Each class syllabus at The University of Utah must now contain an officialcampus safety statement. It provides the telephone number for university police so any member of the campus community can report suspicious activity or request a safety escort.

The campus safety syllabus statement also informs students that they will receive emergency alerts via text message.

“This doesn’t cost the university anything, and it can increase awareness of these resources,” says Kaitlin McLean, a medical student who originated the safety syllabus statement last year when she was a senior. “When we have safety resources, we should share that information as widely as possible.”


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As a member last year of the academic senate, McLean says she got wide faculty support.

The campus safety syllabus statement also provides a link to safeu.utah.edu, which contains resources and videos on sexual assault reporting, discrimination and other safety topics.

Kaitlin McLean, now a medical student at the University of Utah, was the driving force in getting faculty to include a safety statement on every class syllabus.

Kaitlin McLean, now a medical student at the University of Utah, was the driving force in getting faculty to include a safety statement on every class syllabus.

“When students come forward with initiatives and say, ‘This is something we want to see,’ it’s a good idea for administrators to give us a chance,” McLean says of the safety syllabus statement,

While many institutions recommend including campus safety information on a syllabus, Missouri State University in Springfield is another school that requires it. At the start of each semester, faculty receive a letter informing them about their responsibilities around emergency preparedness, says David Hall, the director of university safety.


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During the first class, instructors are also expected to let students know what to do in the case of specific emergency scenarios, Hall says.

A university database allows faculty to tailor their emergency instructions to the building in which the class is taking place—such as where to shelter in the case of dangerous weather, Hall adds. “It’s about providing clear information and basic guidance to faculty, who are going to be the first ones students will look to.”