The University of Chicago News Office  

University of Chicago: FAQ on Recent Campus Tragedy

Updated on Dec. 6, 2007 at 10:26 a.m.

Members of the University community as well as parents of students have had a number of questions related to the November 19 early morning fatal shooting of a graduate student and two other violent incidents that occurred within the preceding hour.  We have compiled answers to some of those questions and will be adding more questions and answers as additional information becomes available.

What is being done to celebrate the life of Amadou Cisse?

Where can members of the University community find support services?

What events have been held around campus to share information and provide support to the community?

What are the late-night transportation services the University provides?

What improvements have been made in recent years to police services?

What are the University’s plans for increasing security in response to recent violence?

What is the safety alert system at the University of Chicago?

What other safety resources are available?

What communications did the University send out about the crimes?

Why did the University send an emergency alert to the campus community at 10:40 a.m. on November 19, rather than immediately following the attacks?

What data are available regarding the incidence of crime on and around campus?

How can parents and family members of current students stay informed?

What is the University doing to address the underlying issues of poverty and unequal opportunity that contribute to crime in the community?

What is being done to celebrate the life of Amadou Cisse?

An obituary including recollections of Cisse’s friends and colleagues was distributed to the news media and posted on our website at http://www-news.uchicago.edu/releases/07/071119.cisse.shtml.  Student leaders organized a candlelight vigil on Tuesday, November 20, and his family invited community members to a prayer service on Wednesday, November 21.  The University community also is organizing a memorial service and the details will be announced as soon as they are finalized.  Cisse was scheduled to receive his Ph.D. degree in chemistry at Convocation on December 7, and his degree will be awarded posthumously.

Where can members of the University community find support services?

When a tragedy like this happens in our community, we all begin a process of grieving.  Even those who did not know Amadou Cisse may feel a sense of loss.  Situations like this can elicit all kinds of complicated and difficult feelings which can often be helped by engaging in a dialogue.  Sometimes that dialogue is private, in the form of counseling or by conversations with trusted friends, colleagues and mentors; sometimes it is public, when the community gets together to share our feelings and reactions.

Deans of Students and residence hall staff will continue to be an available resource for students.   Students who may need additional support are encouraged to contact:

  • Student Counseling and Resource Service, 5737 S. University Ave., (773) 702-9800
  • Campus minister, (773) 702-7111
  • Other University resources are available 24 hours a day / 7 days a week by calling (773) 834-HELP

Counseling resources are available to faculty and staff through Perspectives, 5751 S. Woodlawn, (800) 456-6327.

What events have been held around campus to share information and provide support to the community?

A number of meetings have been held with students, faculty, staff and community members to allow for expressions of grieving, to share information and to respond to questions.  A summary of these meetings is posted at http://www-news.uchicago.edu/releases/07/071120.events.shtml and will be updated as additional events are scheduled.

What are the late-night transportation services the University provides?

The late-night transportation services consist of an Evening Bus Service, a SafeRide on-demand van service, and an escort service provided by the University of Chicago Police Department.

In response to the violent attacks on November 19, two additional vans were added to the SafeRide Program and the start time was changed from midnight to 5 p.m.  We expect to make additional improvements to that service as soon as we can determine—with community input—what changes would be most effective.  Enhancements under consideration include additional vans as well as changes to routes, policies, and other operational aspects of the program to better meet the needs of the University community. 

For more information about the Evening Bus or SafeRide program, please visit http://facilities.uchicago.edu/transpparking/transportation/index.shtml.  You may e-mail any questions, concerns, or suggestions for improvement to bus@uchicago.edu.  For more information about the UCPD Umbrella Coverage and other personal safety programs please call (773) 702-8181 or visit http://oca.uchicago.edu/safety/.

Evening Bus Service
During the academic year, The University operates four routes (North, East, South, and Central) of evening bus service throughout the Hyde Park-Kenwood neighborhood during the academic year.  Buses operate on 20-minute schedules and depart from the front of the Regenstein Library.

Buses operate Sunday-Wednesday from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. and Thursday-Saturday until 3 a.m.  Drivers will stop to pick up or drop off passengers along any of the established routes.  A University of Chicago ID is required to ride the buses.  Maps and schedules can be found at http://facilities.uchicago.edu/transpparking/transportation/index.shtml.

During the summer and academic breaks, alternate routes, A and B, provide reduced service.  Route A is a combination of service for the North and East evening routes.  Route B is a combination of service for the South and Central evening routes.

SafeRide Program
An on-demand van service is available Sunday-Wednesday from 5 p.m. to 4 a.m. and Thursday-Saturday from 5 p.m. to 6 a.m. for students and employees located in the University Police area of coverage (39th Street to 64th Street, Lake Shore Drive to Cottage Grove Avenue).  Individuals should call (773) 702-2022 and give their precise address for pick-up, and have their University ID ready when boarding the bus.  Delays in pickups may occur since the buses operate on a “first call, first come” basis.  We strongly encourage riders to be patient until the van arrives to ensure safe travel.

Umbrella Coverage
Anyone within the University Police coverage area may request a police escort at any time if they feel uncomfortable with their surroundings.  Call (773) 702-8181 and give your location; the first available patrol car will be dispatched to accompany you as you walk to your destination.

What improvements have been made in recent years to police services?

The University of Chicago Police Department (UCPD) has worked to keep our communities safe for more than 40 years. This professionally trained force operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days per year. 

Over the past decade, we have expanded University Police coverage from 39th to 64th Streets and Cottage Grove Avenue to Lake Shore Drive.  Our budget for police protection has increased by more than $1 million over the past three years with the additional budget funding 15 new FTE police officer positions.  With a current annual budget of $5.5 million, the University employs 146 state-certified officers who have full police powers. They respond to emergency calls, patrol neighborhoods, listen to residents' concerns, and more.  Their location and staffing allow them to respond very rapidly to incidents and safety requests in their coverage area.   

We have spent an additional $1.5 million on emergency phones over the past four years.  Currently, we have 329 emergency phones located throughout our coverage area, and we continue to add new phones as we evaluate the environment on campus and in our surroundings neighborhoods.

To reach the UCPD in an emergency, dial (773) 702-8181 or press the red button on one of the emergency phones located in the area. For non-emergency requests please call (773) 702-8190.   Suggestions on security enhancements in or around campus may be sent by e-mail to communityaffairs@uchicago.edu.

What are the University’s plans for increasing security in response to recent violence?

The University has permanently increased police patrols on and around campus.  UCPD has had the highest level of police patrols between the hours of 4 p.m. and midnight, the period when crimes are most likely to occur.  We have expanded these staffing levels by increasing the number of University police car patrols by 50 percent between 4 p.m. and midnight, and more than doubling the police car presence after midnight. We have supplemented squad-car-based patrols with additional officers on bicycles.  Each of these steps will be maintained indefinitely.

Campus security will be maintained at these increased levels throughout the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. 

Until the opening next spring of our new police headquarters now under construction at 61st and Drexel Avenue, we will set up a visible  police substation at this location on November 21.  This station will be open 24 hours per day. 

At the same time that we take these immediate measures, we will begin a comprehensive review of campus safety and security, seeking advice from both security experts as well as from campus and community members. Among improvements we expect to consider is the installation of additional security cameras on and around the campus.

What is the safety alert system at the University of Chicago?

The University has two safety awareness and alert systems in place.

The system used to alert the campus community and others who register about specific crime incidents is the Safety Awareness Alert system. This system is not designed to report every crime in the community; it is an e-mail communication system that provides factual information about certain crimes and crime patterns to help the community make prudent safety decisions. An incident prompts a safety awareness alert when particular precautions are warranted or when an unusually violent or high-profile crime is reported.  An incident prompts a Safety Awareness Alert when:

  • a crime against a person occurs within the University campus area;
  • the police believe particular precautions are warranted to avoid encountering an offender;
  • an unusually violent crime — such as sexual assault or homicide — has been reported; or
  • a crime has become the subject of widespread community discussion and an alert is needed to replace rumor with facts.

Safety Awareness Alerts briefly describe what happened, when, and where; descriptions of the offender are given if the victim’s report is sufficiently detailed to aid in identification of a specific suspect. Safety Awareness Alerts do not identify the victim by name, exact address, or University affiliation, nor do they report domestic crimes or crimes where the victim knows the offender.

Alerts also are posted on 20 designated bulletin boards around campus and distributed by fax to offices throughout the University.

You may receive alerts and tips automatically by e-mail; follow this link (https://listhost.uchicago.edu/mailman/listinfo/safety-awareness) to subscribe.

The Emergency Notification System, called cAlert, enables authorized University officials to reach members of the University community through mechanisms other than regular University e-mail and telephones. The new system can transmit short notifications by e-mail to any outside e-mail address, by text message to a cell phone, or by voice message to an off-campus telephone. This system allows the University to contact individuals in case of emergency, a University closing, or some other event that requires rapid, wide-scale notification of the community.

What other safety resources are available?

Below is a list of websites that provide a variety of information about safety:

What communications did the University send out about the crimes?

The University posted material to our website, sent e-mail messages, and activated the emergency alert system beginning at 10:40 a.m. on November 19.  Two messages were sent by President Zimmer to all faculty, staff and students, and an additional message was sent by Kim Goff-Crews, Vice President and Dean of Students, and Hank Webber, Vice President for Community and Government Affairs.  Messages also were sent to parents of current students, parents of students at the Lab School, and University of Chicago alumni.  Faculty received a letter with information on how best to support grieving students and direct them to appropriate campus resources.  We continue to issue communications as new information becomes available. These materials are posted to our website at http://www-news.uchicago.edu/releases/07/071119.safety.msg.shtml.

Why did the University send an emergency alert to the campus community at 10:40 a.m. on November 19, rather than immediately following the attacks?

University officials made decisions about the content and timing of the emergency alert based on information coming from the police about the nature of the attacks and the likely level of threat to the campus community.  The goal was to provide thorough information that could be useful to our community.  This was the first test of the emergency alert system, which was developed over the summer in response to violent incidents at other universities.  We will be reviewing every aspect of the emergency communication system, including the timing of messages and process used to distribute them, in order to strengthen the system and ensure it is as effective as possible.

What data are available regarding the incidence of crime on and around campus?

Violent crime (murder, sexual assault, robbery, and aggravated assault and battery) has been relatively unchanged from 2004-2006 in the patrol area of the University of Chicago Police Department, which includes 39th to 61st streets and Cottage Grove to Lake Shore Drive. However, violent crime during that three-year period has decreased in Hyde Park-South Kenwood and increased in Woodlawn.

More detailed crime statistics are available at http://commonsense.uchicago.edu/crime-info.html and http://www.chicagocrime.org.

How can parents and family members of current students stay informed?

If your student is enrolled in the College, please contact your student’s College adviser or Susan Art, the Dean of Students in the College, at (773) 702-8615 or art3@uchicago.edu.  If your student is enrolled elsewhere in the University, please contact the Office of the Vice President and Dean of Students in the University at (773) 702-7770 or Sheila Yarbrough, Associate Dean of Students in the University, at sayarbro@uchicago.edu.

President Robert Zimmer and other University officials have sent several messages about the recent incidents to the campus community and to parents, and these messages are posted to our website at http://www-news.uchicago.edu/releases/07/071119.safety.msg.shtml.  Regular updates will be posted there as new information becomes available.

What is the University doing to address the underlying issues of poverty and unequal opportunity that contribute to crime in the community?

Throughout the University of Chicago are students, faculty, staff, and alumni who dedicate their time, energy, and talents to strengthening the neighborhoods of the mid–South Side and the city of Chicago. As a research institution, the University devotes considerable resources to studying the issues that deeply impact our communities, our society, and our world.   The University has undertaken a number of specific initiatives, in partnership with government and community organizations, to improve the quality of life in our surrounding communities. These efforts include charter schools and school partnerships to improve the public education system; provision of medical care to many members of our community; programs to enhance the availability of jobs for residents of the mid-South Side; and investments in housing, retail, and public amenities. Over the past five years, the University has invested more than $70 million in these and other community engagement initiatives.  For more information on these efforts, visit http://oca.uchicago.edu/.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Permalink: http://www-news.uchicago.edu/releases/07/071121.faq.shtml
Last modified at 10:27 AM CST on Thursday, December 06, 2007

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