UArizona leaders highlight campus safety and mental health resources

a person walking in front of old main

Chris Richards/University Communications

The University of Arizona provides a host of resources to keep the campus community safe – and safety requires every student and employee's voice, university leaders said Friday.

University President Robert C. Robbins and Steve Patterson, interim vice president and chief safety officer, shared that message during a briefing at the end of the first week of fall semester classes.

Patterson, his team and other university offices spent much of the summer making physical changes to campus, including adding locks to classroom doors and updating how certain buildings can be accessed via CatCards.

But some of the most significant work, Patterson said, involved collecting and publishing information about the various resources offers to students and employees related to physical safety on campus, mental health and more.

"Part of my role is not only to ensure that we do the physical updates but also create awareness and really focus on making people aware of what resources are out there; empower people with tools," Patterson said.

The Office of Public Safety website is a one-stop repository for this information, Patterson said. The site includes the newly completed Wildcat Safety Guide, which provides a host of safety information for incoming students, including how to contact the UArizona Police Department, a list of helpful phone numbers and websites, safety and wellness resources, safety trainings, and information about how the university responds to a variety of emergency scenarios.

Patterson also highlighted other safety-related tools, such as UAlert, the text and email messaging service the university uses to notify the campus community about emergencies, and LiveSafe, an app available via the Apple App Store and Google Play Store that lets students and employees discreetly send text, audio, photos and video of potential safety threats directly to UAPD.

In some cases, the physical changes made over the summer were entirely about awareness and education, Patterson said. For example, new posters in each classroom direct students to campus safety resources.

Patterson noted that the Wildcat Safety Guide also covers mental health-related resources available to students and employees. Those include contact information for Counseling & Psych Services, or CAPS, which offers a range of free resources to students. Counseling services are offered to employees via Life & Work Connections.

UAPD, under the leadership of Interim Chief Chris Olson, has also created a mental health support team and appointed John Guetersloh as the department's mental health officer.

The university's Threat Assessment and Management Team also recently appointed Jessica Semmann as its new director, Patterson said.

The Friday briefing helped kick off what is expected to be an exciting semester, Robbins said. The university welcomed 9,300 first-year students on Monday, he noted, and total enrollment topped 52,000.

Keeping campus safe, he added, would require everyone being empowered "to be part of the solution."

"Our job is to make sure that campus is safe for everyone that steps foot on our campus," Robbins said. "We can't do that with just the resources we have in these jobs. We have to activate and have a force multiplier with everyone."

The archived briefing can be watched below.