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3.11.2 Institutional environment

The institution takes reasonable steps to provide a healthy, safe, and secure environment for all members of the campus community. (Institutional environment)

Judgment of Compliance

Sam Houston State University has multiple systems in place to ensure the health, safety, and security of all students, faculty, staff, and visitors. Responsibility for ensuring health, safety, and security is spread across a variety of divisions and departments on campus.

University Health and Safety
The University Physical Plant is primarily responsible for campus facilities. The mission of the Physical Plant is to operate, maintain, and promote the development of quality facilities, grounds, and services to efficiently and effectively support the University’s instruction, research, and public service programs. The University Safety Office is responsible for administering safety programs designed to assure a safe and healthy campus environment for all students, faculty and staff. These programs include fire, health, and occupational safety. The Safety Coordinator prepares a plan of action for any unsafe condition that the Coordinator discovers or that is reported to him.

Policies and procedures are currently in place to provide for the security and maintenance of University buildings. Security measures include policies for locking buildings, offices, and rooms; re-coring door locks; and key distribution and inventory [1] [2] [3]. The University has procedures related to building maintenance and repairs, including a preventative maintenance schedule that is implemented throughout the year [4] [5].

The University’s facilities are periodically inspected by the State Fire Marshall’s Office. Pursuant to the findings in the audit report, the University has developed a comprehensive corrective action plan to further ensure the safety of persons and facilities [6] [7]. Additionally, a fire protection policy is implemented through the Safety Office [8]. Additional policies/procedures that support fire safety include building inspections, fire drill protocols, fire extinguisher evaluations, and fire alarm callout procedures [9] [10] [11] [12].

Sam Houston State University has developed policies and procedures to ensure that its employees are safe, especially those persons working in potentially hazardous conditions. These policies and procedures include hard hats, hazard communication, hot work, lockout/tagout, and specified radio channels [13] [14] [15] [16] [17].

Proper handling of bio-chemical and hazardous materials is governed through the University Safety Office. Policies regarding the use of these materials and a bio-hazard cleanup protocol are included as part of the University Physical Plant Policies and Procedures [18]. These address issues regarding chemical hygiene, compressed gas, hazardous waste, lab inspections, and lab spill response procedures [19] [20] [21] [22] [23].

Student Services and Residential Living
The Divisions of Student Services and Enrollment Management are the primary university divisions responsible for student activities on the Sam Houston State University campus. Programs from these divisions are designed to promote student health and wellness and provide for student safety.

The Division of Student Services offers a multitude of programs designated for the promotion of student safety and health. Students’ physical and mental health is served by the Student Health Center and the Counseling Center. Two common areas of concern are currently being addressed through the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Initiative and Safe Sex Education [24] [25].

Physical fitness is an important contributor to a lifelong commitment to overall wellness. The University supports student participation in a variety of physical fitness activities. These opportunities are available through the Department of Recreational Sports [26]. The mission of the Department of Recreational Sports is to provide students safe recreational programs and facilities which enhance their educational experience and quality of life. Recreational Sports consists of seven program areas - Aquatics, Club Sports, Informal Recreation, Intramural Sports, Outdoor Recreation, Special Events and the Wellness program, and manages eight recreational facilities. The Wellness Program, which debuted in 2001, offers comprehensive wellness programming for SHSU students, faculty, and staff. Group Fitness Classes (formerly known as Aerobics), Personal Fitness Training, Wellness Workshops, and Dietary Counseling are just a few of the programs and services currently being offered.

As per Comprehensive Standard 3.9.1, the University Student Guidelines are published yearly to inform students of University policies regarding alcohol, drugs, hazing, risk management, and code of student conduct and discipline [27]. These guidelines also include the Student’s Right to Know and Campus Security Act of 1990. All incoming students receive a copy of these guidelines during the required summer freshman orientation program and the information is available online [28].

The Department of Residence Life, within the Division of Enrollment Management, is charged with maintaining the safety of all students living in on-campus housing. Policies for residence hall safety inspections, lock down procedures, and evacuations are in place to ensure student and staff safety [29]. To further enhance safety in the residence halls, residents must use university identification cards to enter their building. Students are informed of other safety-related policies and procedures through the Residence Life Resident Handbook [30].

Emergency Response and Public Safety
The University Police Department is the primary responder for campus emergencies [31]. They employ 15 commissioned and licensed Peace Officers, which include the director, assistant director, two police supervisors, and nine patrol officers. The University Police Department provides police services 24 hours a day, 365 days a year (including holidays). Additionally, the department provides a number of services which consist of emergency call boxes located around campus; escorting students during the evening and night time hours; vehicle jump starts; crime prevention/awareness programs; and publication of campus crime statistics [32]. They have a support staff of one full-time telecommunications operator and employ 50-60 part-time student assistants as telecommunications operators, parking control officers, and foot patrol officers.

University Police Officers are authorized by State statute to enforce Federal, State, and local laws and/or any regulation issued by the Board of Regents of Sam Houston State University on property under the control and jurisdiction of Sam Houston State University. Section 51.203 of the Texas Statutes Education Code states, "The governing boards of each state institution of higher education and public technical institute may employ and commission peace officers for the purpose of carrying out the provisions of this subchapter” [33]. The primary jurisdiction of a peace officer commissioned under this section includes all counties in which property is owned, leased, rented, or otherwise under the control of the institution of higher education or public technical institute that employs the peace officer or otherwise in the performance of their duties.

The Institution’s Emergency Response Plan provides the University community with the appropriate course of action in the event of a natural disaster, civil/campus emergency, or other catastrophic events which primarily originate on campus or in the local community [34]. An Emergency Procedures Quick Reference is posted in all academic classrooms and other appropriate locations on campus [35]. As part of SHSU’s development of its emergency response plans, the institution has developed a relationship with a third party vendor (Connect-ED) to provide the SHSU community with a mass notification system. The system, known as KatSafe, will be in place for the fall 2008 semester and SHSU community members will be able to voluntarily participate in providing telephone numbers (up to 6) that will notify individual participants of emergency situations on or off campus that will impact the daily operations of the university [36]. The coordination of this system will be done through the University Police Department.

The Critical Incident Management System (CIMS) established for Sam Houston State University is the management system used for incidents which primarily originate and occur external to the university [37]. These natural or manmade incidents could include but are not be limited to hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, terrorist acts, power outages, fires, mass medical situations, or other critical situations. The CIMS establishes protocols and procedures for the university in order to respond in an organized and systematic manner to the incident. The university will work in tandem with the Governor’s Division of Emergency Management in addressing the response needed for the incident [38]. The plan was created in direct response to the difficulties in dealing with the evacuations caused by Hurricanes Rita and Katrina in 2005.

Supporting Documentation
Documentation Reference
Document Title
[1] Finance and Operations Policy FO-09 - Building, Office, and Room Security Policy
[2] Building Security Re-Cores Policy, Physical Plant, SHSU
[3] Finance and Operations Policy FO-24 - Keys (Building Key Policy)
[4] Finance and Operations Policy FO-06 - Building Maintenance and Repairs
[5] Preventive Maintenance Program, Physical Plant, SHSU
[6] Fire Marshall Audit - Fire Safety Inspection Report, April 2005
[7] Fire Marshall Audit - Corrective Actions
[8] Fire Protection Policy, Safety Office, SHSU
[9] Fire and Life Building Inspection Form, SHSU
[10] Emergency Evacuations and Fire Drill Protocol, Safety Office, SHSU
[11] Fire Extinguisher Evaluation, Safety Office, SHSU
[12] Fire Alarm Callout Procedures, Safety Office, SHSU
[13] Personal Protective Equipment: Headgear (Hard Hat Policy), Safety Office, SHSU
[14] Hazard Communication Program, Texas Department of Health
[15] Hot Work Policy, Safety Office, SHSU
[16] Control of Hazardous Energy - Lockout/Tagout Procedure, Safety Office, SHSU
[17] Radio Channels, Memo from Safety Coordinator to Shop Foremans, Project Managers and Work Control
[18] Biohazard Cleanup Protocol, Safety Office, SHSU
[19] Chemical Hygiene Plan, Safety Office, SHSU
[20] Compressed Gas Policy, Safety Office, SHSU
[21] Hazardous Waste Management Program, SHSU
[22] Lab Inspection Check List, SHSU
[23] Lab Spill Response Procedure, SHSU
[24] Alcohol and Drug Abuse Initiative, SHSU
[25] Safe Sex Education Article, SHSU
[26] Recreational Sports, Webpage
[27] Student Guidelines
[28] Students Right to Know Website
[29] Residence Life Staff Security Manual
[30] Residence Life Handbook
[31] University Police Department, Webpage
[32] Crime Statistics, SHSU
[33] Texas Statutes Education Code, Chapter 51, Section 51.203
[34] Emergency Response Plan, February 2008, SHSU
[35] Emergency Quick Reference, SHSU
[36] KatSafe, SHSU
[37] Critical Incident Management System (CIMS), SHSU
[38] State of Texas, Governor’s Division of Emergency Management

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Sam Houston State University
Huntsville, TX 77341
(936) 294-1111