UW Tacoma is an urban serving university located in the heart of downtown Tacoma with at least 5,137 enrolled students. The university is open to all and anyone can come onto campus, creating the possibility of criminal incidents. According to the latest UWT Annual Security and Fire Safety Report released last year on Sept. 25, on-campus crime has increased with more cases of road rage, stolen belongings and vehicle prowl.
Susan Wagshul-Golden, director of Campus Safety at UWT, explained that despite the uptick in incidents like road rage, overall on-campus crime numbers are low compared to the total student population.
“Our percentage is very low based on population,” Wagshul-Golden said. “It’s not just the individual that may have been the victim. Because we are a small community, it still impacts others.”
Wagshul-Golden has been at UWT for 12 years. Prior to working at UWT, she worked as a campus police lieutenant at Hunter College, and before that as a campus lieutenant at Borough of Manhattan Community College. She was one of the first responding officers during the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.
Wagshul-Golden’s duties at UWT include responsibility for the Campus Safety and Security department and the Emergency Management Program, as well as representing the university in higher education. She is currently chairing the Pierce County Higher Education Emergency Planning group and is also the vice chair for the Washington State Homeland Security Region 5 council.
Despite all incidents that can happen, Wagshul-Golden and the UWT Safety and Security Department want students to know about the safety resources that are available to them and to be aware that staff and security officers are here to help at any time.
In the event of a non emergency, students should contact UW SafeCampus. The UW SafeCampus mission is to foster a safe and secure UW campus community and manage potential emergencies that have already occurred. Students concerned about violence, stalking, harassment or suicide can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call and/or text 253-692-SAFE (7233) to utilize UW SafeCampus and talk with a trained professional who can help talk them through a situation. If students experience a bias incident, they can also report it online through UWT’s Office of Equity & Inclusion website: https://www.tacoma.uw.edu/reportbias.
In addition, several blue emergency poles are also placed on campus for students and will trigger a response from the UWT Police once the button is pressed. Though, UWT security recommends to always call 911 first in an urgent or emergency situation. In addition, citizens are now able to contact 911 through text message if a discrete notification to authorities is preferred.
Crime reports can be found on the Campus Safety and Security’s website where students can report a crime, view the annual security report and 60 day incident/crime log and read about Jeanne Clery Act reporting, which requires all Campus Security Authorities to report crimes that have occured on campus, in public areas near campus and in all other buildings owned by the university.
Students can also visit the Campus Safety and Security Department located in Dougan 180, which is comprised of a Director, Program Coordinator, two Campus Security Sergeants and 11 Campus Security Officers.
Coffee with a Cop, an ongoing campus event series, is another outlet for students to reach out to safety officers within the community. Members of the Tacoma Police Department meet with students at 10 a.m. on the second Wednesday of each month at Metro Coffee. All UWT students and faculty are welcome to drop-in, ask questions and receive free coffee and tea. The series is planned to continue through June and could extend through the next academic school year depending on student reception.
“I want folks to meet and have a relationship before we have an emergency or crisis,” Wagshul-Golden said. “[This is] also to create a gateway for folks who may be interested in a job in criminal justice, or even understanding the environment or the community here because if you’re coming from out of state like me, or this is the first time you’ve had an interaction in a urban city, then this is a great place to ask questions.”
Campus Safety and Security wants people to remember that their department is not just for UW students, staff or faculty, but extends beyond campus.
“They don’t have to be with the university or [be] a registered student,” Wagshul-Golden said. “This is someone that is part of our community. Violence can happen anywhere. The more we can prevent it, the better … We don’t just stop ‘or you’re university or you’re not.’ It’s anyone that comes on here we’re going to interact with, [and] see where we can help.”
To learn more about the resources available to you, view crime reports and/or learn more about Campus Safety and Security, visit: http://www.tacoma.uw.edu/campus-safety/home