Update on Safety Initiatives

August 17, 2021

To: Members of the University Community
From: Ka Yee C. Lee, Provost, and Eric M. Heath, Associate Vice President for Safety and Security
Subject: Update on Safety Initiatives
Date: August 16, 2021

The safety of our campus and surrounding community members is a paramount priority for the University of Chicago. Over the past decade, the University has devoted substantial energy and resources to improving safety, resulting in long-term reductions in crime on and around campus. We regularly evaluate our safety-related programs and services and listen to feedback from members of our campus community as well as South Side community residents, with the goal of enhancing our safety efforts and helping people to live safely in Chicago. As a result of this input, the University will implement additional safety measures during the 2021-22 academic year that we want to share with you today.

These new initiatives are intended to enhance and expand our security and transportation support to deter crime, increase safety, and further increase access to immediate assistance in the case of emergency. With support from the local aldermen, and in response to requests from community residents to build upon our existing safety resources, we are expanding our safety ambassador program to provide more visibility and increased security on and around 53rd Street as well as the neighboring communities of Woodlawn, Hyde Park, and Kenwood. We are also increasing transportation options and access to safety training and information for the University community. These steps are in addition to the robust safety resources and programs already available through the University, which are summarized below. We encourage everyone to familiarize themselves with these resources.

New Safety Initiatives

The University will implement the following initiatives over the next few months. Additional details on these programs will be provided in the Autumn Safety update in September.

  • Expansion of the Safety Ambassador Program: The University is partnering with Allied Universal to assign safety ambassadors on a trial basis in residential neighborhoods and other public spaces in Hyde Park, Kenwood, and Woodlawn, including the 53rd Street business corridor. This effort, which builds upon our successful Safety Ambassador Program on campus, has the support of the aldermen who represent these areas. Safety ambassadors are trained security officers who patrol on foot and in vehicles, act as safety points of contact, and immediately contact the Department of Safety and Security Emergency Communications Center for additional support, resources, or dispatch of police in the case of an emergency. The new safety ambassadors will complement the essential work of the University of Chicago Police Department (UCPD) in the extended patrol area surrounding campus.
  • Increased Transportation Options for Members of the University Community:
    • The University is expanding the UGo Shuttle System to add a new route from campus to CTA train stations on West Garfield Blvd and the UChicago Arts Incubator. You will be able to find more information about the new route and schedule at transportation.uchicago.edu once the details and route structure have been finalized in the weeks ahead.
    • The University will be offering students a new point-to-point transportation option called Lyft Ride Smart at UChicago. This program is in addition to the current NightRide UGo Shuttle System. Starting this Autumn Quarter, students can use up to 10 free Lyft rides each month (within the current NightRide service area during the academic year, starting at 9 pm Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, through 4 am the following days.) Details regarding this service, including sign up instructions, will be available soon on the Department of Safety and Security website.
    • We are exploring a possible collaboration with Metra to offer lower-cost ride options to members of the University community. Further information will be communicated as details are finalized.
  • Expanding Personal Safety Education and Training: The UCPD will offer free home/apartment security inspections for members of the University community living off-campus within the UCPD patrol area. Additionally, the University is launching new websites and educational materials with recommendations for staying safe in a large urban environment and information about the programs highlighted in this message.

Continuing Safety Resources

In addition to the new initiatives outlined above, we continue to offer a wide range of safety-related resources:

  • The University of Chicago Police Department: The UCPD provides a vital service in helping to keep safe and support our campus and surrounding communities – a mission that the University has undertaken with the encouragement of community members and leaders and in accordance with Chicago City Ordinance. This professionally trained police department operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, is staffed with state-certified officers, and is the only campus police agency in the state of Illinois accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA).
  • UChicago Safe Mobile Application: This mobile safety app is a convenient way to request a safety escort, contact emergency services, or share your location in real-time with a friend or family member so they can keep track as you travel to your destination. We encourage you to download it today.
  • Safe Transportation Options: Visit transportation.uchicago.edu to find details on University day- and night-time shuttle service routes and real-time schedules, CTA buses and trains near campus, parking, and alternative transportation options such as ride and car sharing.
  • Safety Escort Program: Members of the University community can call 773.702.8181 to request a safety escort at any time within the UCPD’s patrol area. The first available patrol or security officer will be sent to escort you to your destination.
  • Security Technology: More than 100 emergency “blue light” stations around campus are outfitted with security technology including security cameras and call stations that connect directly to the UCPD dispatch center.
  • University Alerts: In the event of an emergency, the University uses a system called cAlert to notify members of the campus community and provide essential information on how to stay safe. To ensure that these important messages reach you via text messages, emails, and automated calls, log onto calert.uchicago.edu (hosted on getrave.com) and enter your contact information, if you have not already. You can also find information about security alerts, crime notices, and a daily crime and fire log on the Department of Safety and Security website.
  • Personal Safety Education: Any unit or organization on campus can request a safety presentation by contacting UCPD’s Community Relations Unit. UCPD partners with Campus and Student Life and other University offices to provide self-defense and situational awareness classes and safety presentations many times throughout the year.
  • Support Programs: Deans-on-Call provide emotional and logistical support to students who are the victim of a crime or experience another emergency. Deans-on-Call help students connect with medical care or counseling, report a crime to the police, find safe transportation, and locate other safety resources.

These wide-ranging efforts, along with the new programs we are implementing, will provide critical support for our community’s shared commitment to safety. We will continue to evaluate our safety programs throughout the academic year and provide updates to the community over the coming months.