SGA: FAMU PD unable to staff Campus Safety Team

Senate meeting on Nov. 1. Photo Courtesy: Kenan K. Mercius

The focus of discussion for this week’s senate meeting was the announcement that there will not be a Campus Safety Team this academic year, due to lack of staffing for official law enforcement.

The Campus Safety Team is a joint operation between the Student Government Association and the FAMU Police Department to deploy a patrol unit that transports students to and from campus locations at night to ensure safety measures.

“As of right now there truly is nothing we can do about it,” explained Senate President Artise Lewis. “It’s not SGA… FAMU PD just doesn’t have the staffing to have a Campus Safety Team this academic year.”

With students already concerned about Coleman library missing key safety measures, this decision will undoubtedly create insecurities in students navigating campus after dark.

Student Melissa Toussaint expressed her concerns on the matter stating, “hearing that SGA will not have a Campus Safety team is showing me how students are on their own when on campus.”

“Whatever happens to us on campus just happens.,” Toussaint said. “This is just one area where FAMU is severely lacking in campus safety for students.”

The student Senate spent most of their meeting time explaining why this program couldn’t happen during the 2021-2022 school year and their decisions regarding the remaining financial balance of about $20,000 budget for the Campus Safety Team, which has not yet been used.

Lewis explained to the senate body “They [Campus Safety Team] have nearly $20,000 in all of their accounts combined, that they’re not using at all…so what I’m saying is we can transfer all that money to the L-Branch [Legislative] account and that can be used for any events or programs that either branch of student government wants.”

For the 2021-2022 school year, the student senate funded a total of $19,234 to the Campus Safety Team initiative; $12,000 is intended to purchase golf carts for transport operations, $1,750 OPS is to pay students who were employed, and an amount of $5,484 is for “uniforms and things of the nature for the staff,” according to Lewis.

“I am just confused on why the Senate would spend three times as much money on uniforms than spent paying employees…That does not make sense,” Toussaint said.

SGA program director Harold Anderson II gave details on why the program is impossible this year.

“We need trained officials who are going to be leading students on what to do and how they’re supposed to do it,” Anderson said. “We need somebody on staff we can pay to be dispatched for students and they’re not going to come for free.”

The current budget of $20,000 is nowhere near enough to effectively operate the Campus Safety Team and the past budgets for the Campus safety team were, on average, between $55,000 to $65,000.

Anderson ultimately suggested to the senate body that those funds for the Campus Safety Team should be utilized in ways to greater serve the student body.

“Being that we are in a year where we are struggling in our finances, I think it would be very prudent to use those funds to better benefit the student body, rather than just letting $20,000 sit in an account that can’t be used throughout the year,” Anderson said.

The Campus Safety Team last operated during fall of the 2019 school year and will not be in operation until proper funding allows for additional staffing of official law enforcement.