Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

‘Safety walk’ event calls for student input

Kelly Hueckman / Advance-Titan – Acting Chief of Police Chris Tarmann walks alongside OSG Vice President Jakob Rucinski in the safety walk on Tuesday.

Topics ranging from outdoor lighting to building security were discussed during Tuesday evening’s ‘safety walk’ event, held by Acting Chief of Police Chris Tarmann and other UW Oshkosh staff and administrators.

“The safety walk is a unique opportunity for you to join Chancellor Andy Leavitt, acting Chief of Police Chris Tarmann and other campus leaders as we walk through the Oshkosh campus,” Tarmann wrote in the event’s email announcement. “The event promotes an open dialogue on safety, fosters a sense of community and strengthens our commitment to ensuring the UWO campus remains a safe and welcoming place for everyone.”

Chief of Staff Alex Hummel, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Erin Grisham, Chief Facilities Officer JoAnn Rife and Police Lieutenant Greg Weitz were also in attendance.

The walk began in front of Polk Library, headed to parking lot 34 across from Polk, and made its way to the front of Horizon Village before working its way to the Culver Family Welcome Center and ending near Kolf Sports Center.

During the walk, Tarmann addressed the neighborhood children who have been wandering onto campus, into buildings, and making comments to UWO students who walk by. He said that these children come from all around the city, including nearby refugee housing.

“For the last two months, I’ve been working with World Relief … (to bring) together a community conversation between a few families,” he said. “We’re just going to navigate what that looks like because some of those folks came here, and they were in a refugee camp where they could go wherever. And then they came here and they have this tiny little building with really no grass space to do their thing.”

Tarmann said that a lot of the nearby refugees have been making use of UWO’s green space instead.

He also said that he has been working with the chief of the Oshkosh fire department and the chief of the city to build relationships with the children by finding common ground.

“We’ve done a great job of trying to build relationships with them, but there’s some dialect issues and there’s also a lack of cultural understanding for space,” he said. “Our goal is to help build a bridge of how we navigate those spaces — respect for area and stuff like that.”

The university has addressed this in part by requiring student IDs to open residence hall doors at all times, which Tarmann said reduced the impact of random people entering during the day.

“If you go into an apartment building, you have to get buzzed to get into a space in the room,” he said. “That’s where we were trying to head with that.”

The overground pipes running across campus near Harrington, Halsey and Swart were another topic brought up during the safety walk. Rife said that it’s still an on-going project.

Issues with the old, underground pipes arose when they began to rot and water flowed into and flooded the basement of Polk Library. She said that facilities management had to rush to find a temporary solution for the heating and cooling pipes.

But putting them back underground is a state-level project, which has exacerbated the timeline.

“We have submitted it to the state, but we have to wait for them to assign an architect and engineering team to do the design work,” she said. “I don’t have a timeline yet about when that’s going to happen. I would not expect that to be done yet this year.”

Rife and Tarmann also addressed burnt out lights in parking lots and along walkways through the campus.

“Everyone can put in a work order to the facilities management website and just let us know,” Rife said. “Each light pole has a number on it, so if you give us the number of that light pole, it would be extremely helpful.”

Alternatively, Tarmann said that an email can be sent to the UWO Police, who can fill out the work order and send it to facilities management themselves.

Rife addressed certain dark spots across campus, such as near Horizon Village facing Elmwood Avenue, where light levels are low during the night. She said that facilities management monitors the light levels needed for good visibility; nonetheless, there are restrictions about what can be done that have been problematic.

She also added that more construction projects are underway, including construction on Cherry Street next summer, as well as a water main replacement on Prospect Avenue.

All of the faculty who joined the safety walk expressed their appreciation for the campus, including Hummel.

“We have an awesome campus,” he said. “With the reconstruction of Algoma Boulevard, it is so much better. … I’ve served here now for 12 years and, in my opinion, it’s a pretty darn-good campus.”

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