Annual safety walk with Chancellor Leavitt


Stephen Schafer

University Police Chief Kurt Leibold discusses ways to stay safe on and off campus and answers student’s questions along the walk.

Joseph Schulz, News Writer

UW Oshkosh students voiced their safety concerns at the annual campus safety walk with Chancellor Andrew Leavitt and the University Police.

Leavitt said the walk was important because it gave administrators a chance to listen to students about their safety concerns.

“It’s good to do it every year because when you have new students come in, they have new sets of eyes,” Leavitt said. “In previous years we have definitely made corrective actions based on what we learned in the safety walk.”

UP Chief of Police Kurt Leibold said it’s important that students feel safe on campus.

“Fear is just as relevant as actual crime or disorder; if people don’t feel safe it won’t be a good environment for them to learn and live,” Leibold said. “The No. 1 priority for us is the safety of students and staff on campus.”

Leavitt said the University’s relationships with city officials are crucial when reacting to the recent assaults and burglaries near campus.

“Clearly that’s not the campus, but the University has a vested interest in making sure surrounding areas are safe because that’s where our students live,” Leavitt said. “We are definitely engaged with the city to make sure the right kinds of precautions are taken to mitigate that.”

Leibold said the student perception is that there had been more assaults and burglaries near campus than in previous years.

“Usually it’s in the red zone time, the first six weeks of school is when students are more likely to be victims of assaults, not just sexual assault but also street assaults,” Leibold said. “We really pay attention to that part of the year, but we can’t be there all the time.”

UWO student Nik Klessig said assaults near campus scare him because he will be living off campus next year.

“It makes me fear for my roommates, who are all girls next year,” Klessig said. “It’s no surprise that women are targeted more.”

Leavitt said the University has taken steps to prevent predators, like former volleyball coach Brian Schaefer and former art professor Michael Beitz, from obtaining positions of power within the institution.

“In recent years, because of my insistence and [the Schaefer and Beitz] issues, we’ve gotten the University system to look at the consensual relationship policy and change it; it’s gotten a lot stricter,” Leavitt said. “We need to make sure there’s training on campus for all employees that when you see something, you say something.”

UW Oshkosh police officers Trent Martin and Chris Tarmann and UWO Chancellor Andrew Leavitt listen to students concerns during the annual campus safety walk.
Stephen Schafer
UW Oshkosh police officers Trent Martin and Chris Tarmann and UWO Chancellor Andrew Leavitt listen to students concerns during the annual campus safety walk.

Leavitt said sexual assault and harassment is an issue that the University takes extremely seriously.

“We act in the best interest of what the victim wants to do in that case…” Leavitt said. “The times of people being afraid to report because they’re afraid of what will happen, those days are gone.”

Leibold said student safety is a bigger issue than just preventing crimes on and around campus.

“It’s also about environmental safety, so keeping an eye on when sidewalks are cracking or when sidewalks are covered in ice,” Leibold said. “That’s the information we need also, and we’ll make sure we have the right resources in place to make sure everybody is safe walking around campus.”

UWO student Madison Renard said her biggest safety concern on campus was lighting and visibility.

“I feel like some darker parts of campus could be lit up more,” Renard said. “So, when kids are walking from night classes, or theater rehearsal, or clubs they can feel safer walking to their cars.”

Renard said that crosswalks and cars driving through campus pose safety concerns.

“I think what we have in front of Reeve and Sage is very effective, the buttons and everything,” Renard said. “But I think in front of the Scotts and Gruenhagen, those crosswalks could be improved.”

Leibold said students could improve their safety by downloading the UWO Mobile app.

“With that, there’s a virtual blue light where they can hit the button and connect right to our dispatcher, they don’t have to physically get to a blue light to do that,” Leibold said. “That is key, they can contact the police, and we can be there in minutes or seconds.”

Leavitt said students can improve their safety when going out at night through the buddy system and bystander intervention.

“There was a great case of that over a year ago where a student was attacked, and students around them were able to intercede and stop that attack,” Leavitt said. “What it means to be a Titan is to look out for one another.”