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Stony Brook University Is Serious About Safety

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Stony Brook University Is Serious About Safety

Safety initiatives focus on personal responsibility, awareness and prevention

STONY BROOK, NY, April 9, 2012 – To focus on the overall safety of members of the campus community whether on or off campus, Stony Brook University has launched “Serious About Safety,” a wide-ranging campaign to promote and cultivate a safe and responsible environment for personal, traffic and pedestrian safety.

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Campus Residences student assistants displaying pedestrian safety flyers and reflective items for the “Serious About Safety” campaign. From left to right are: Vicki Velez, Rajan Kaur, Bafemi Silver, Melissa Letter and Chris Miao.

University President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., MD, charged senior leadership to develop a broad platform to enhance, communicate and raise awareness about safety initiatives in all Stony Brook University campus settings. President Stanley’s charge came immediately following the tragic death of student Seong Hoon Baek, who tragically lost his life last fall in an off campus hit and run by a driver under the influence of drugs. The result, “Serious About Safety,” is focused on the safety of all members of the campus community emphasizing education and personal responsibility. The goal is to help students be safe in all aspects of their lives by raising awareness about personal safety habits and behaviors to help prevent future tragedies.

“The entire campus community was hit hard when it learned about Seong Hoon Baek,” said President Stanley. “I was personally devastated and decided that more needs to be done to try to prevent such tragedies from happening in the future. Senior leadership stepped up, and we are now working hard to make sure our safety message is broadly acknowledged and that we raise awareness about the importance of being alert, aware and staying safe – on campus and off.”

The University’s holistic approach to campus safety includes roadway and traffic improvements; educational campaigns on increased pedestrian safety including the availability of free reflective items; the nationally recognized Red Watch Band, a toxic drinking intervention program; and the implementation of SB Guardian, a campus safety tool that essentially functions as a “personal blue light phone” that can immediately notify University Police in case of an emergency, supplementing the University’s existing Residential Safety Program Walk Service.

“Safety is about personal responsibility,” said David Scarzella, Director of Residential Risk Management. “Educational campaigns and infrastructure improvements can only do so much.” Additional measures including the “Text Out” program, an initiative designed to encourage responsible text messaging; as well as renovations and changes to facilities, roads and traffic patterns have been implemented. “Safety involves both infrastructure and individual behaviors,” said Mark Woodruff, Assistant Director for Facilities and Services. “With infrastructure, we focus on roads, lighting and other aspects of facilities management because an overarching facet of our mission is to create a safe, secure and effectively run campus environment.”
“Key components of pedestrian and bicycle safety are self-awareness and awareness of others around you,” noted Scarzella. “When walking, jogging or biking at night, it is essential that light-colored or reflective clothing is worn and that headphones are lowered to hear the sounds of approaching vehicles.”

“It’s so important to stay visible when you’re out at night, especially during inclement weather,” said Aron Persaud, the Manager of Seawolves MarketPlace. “If you need to be out during the nighttime hours, we definitely encourage you to wear reflective gear.” Reflective vests are available for free in the Student Activities Center room 224. Reflective key chains, bike lights and more are available for purchase at the Seawolves MarketPlace located in the Student Activities Center.
As part of the toxic drinking intervention initiative, Stony Brook University has joined the National College Health Improvement Project (NCHIP), a nationwide learning collaborative that seeks to combat high-risk drinking behavior on college campuses through data-driven, community-wide efforts involving several areas of the University. The goals are to increase effective education and prevention models, ensure enforcement of policies and laws, and early intervention for those at risk.

Dr. Peter Baigent, Vice President for Student Affairs along with Dr. Charles Robbins, Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education and Dean of the Undergraduate Colleges led the NCHIP initiative at Stony Brook. Both emphasize the importance of supporting students within the framework of the classroom and in life outside of class. “It’s important to consider how we support our students in making healthy decisions,” said Dr. Baigent. “How do we communicate our expectations of students as members of the University community?” asked Dr. Baigent. From an academic perspective, Dr. Robbins offered, “Health and safety are not only Student Affairs issues; they are academic issues that affect our students’ academic success.”

With its NCHIP membership, Stony Brook joins 32 other select colleges and universities nationally such as Stanford, Cornell, Dartmouth and Northwestern University in combating high-risk drinking behavior. One initiative emerging from this effort is the student-generated “Think Again” campaign designed to encourage students to reflect on common misperceptions about the prevalence of alcohol use as part of the college experience.

Aleef Rahman, creator of “Think Again” and a recent Stony Brook graduate in Public Health said that the campaign seeks to captivate individuals through photographic portraiture of student ambassadors who “distill positive social norms messages against high-risk behaviors. Public health photography is a significant and effective method of involving people in activities that promote health,” Rahman said. “Photography can mediate between everyday life experiences and scientifically based knowledge of what affects health so that people are moved rather than indoctrinated by health messages.”

Assistant Chief Neil Farrell of the University Police Department added, “People used to think that when it came to drinking or other high risk behaviors – it’s just part of college,” he said. “We can’t afford to make that mistake in our approach especially when the latest research shows that the impact of these behaviors can result in serious consequences that affect people and communities in the present and into the future.”

“Each Stony Brook student has so much to offer our communities and the world through their academic and research pursuits, as well as their community contributions both locally and globally,” said Dr. Jerrold Stein, Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students. “We want students to get their chance to make a meaningful difference in the lives of others, not only through their commitment to academic excellence and hard work, but also by staying healthy and safe.”

For more information on how you can stay safe on campus, visit


© Stony Brook University 2012

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