With a new and returning crop of Generation Z college students coming on campus in September, it's critical for campus safety personnel to outline ways to engage with the campus community and encourage good safety habits early.
Creating a safe campus environment for students and staff is always top of mind for campus safety. Colleges and universities have implemented mass notification systems, emergency telephones, cameras and security card access to keep their students safe on and off campus. But a major concern for campus safety personnel today is fostering communication with students, as well as enlisting them to be involved in keeping their campus community protected. This enhanced communication effort starts with understanding the generation of students coming on campus.
Who is generation Z?
Generation Z, who were born between 1995–2009, are digital natives and do banking, shopping and other everyday activities on their phones. To them, email is an archaic communication method, with numerous studies showing that Generation Z students are three times more likely to open a chat message through a push notification than to check their email.
Generation Z students value privacy, so the best way to reach them is through other private forums such as WhatsApp. These students also care about mobile personalization and sharing their experiences on social media platforms, such as Snapchat and Instagram. They also are active in social movements and do not tolerate bullying, especially since it's so easy to get away with on the private forums they use on a daily basis. Their attention span is also short at eight seconds, as compared with Millennials' 12 second span, meaning that important messages need to be brief and on multiple platforms.
The Misconception of Campus Safety
Some students may find communicating with campus safety personnel intimidating, while others may have a general negative view of these officers as “the ones” enforcing the rules or encountering students at their worst moments.
As such, campus safety officers are trying different ways to directly engage and communicate with students, from going on foot patrol throughout campus, eating lunch with them, and hosting informational sessions with pizza to teaching classes on conflict resolution and self-defense. Safety officers have earned a new standing on campuses everywhere as they have become the college’s own first responders for incidents on campus. But getting Generation Z students to engage more confidently with campus safety will take more than free pizza. Technology is key.
Getting Generation Z Involved in Campus Safety
As students from Generation Z start to move onto campuses across the nation, here are three things a campus safety officials can do to get people more involved in community policing.
1. Confidential Tipping. Speaking up about underage drinking, hazing, or sexual harassment could make students feel like they’ll be singled out by their peers. Having an app that allows students to discreetly and confidentially report crimes or suspicions through their smartphones may help alleviate some of those feelings and promote health community policing.
2. Safety Timer. A safety timer creates a virtual escort for students as they cross campus. It allows students to set a destination and arrival time and then checks in on them as they move around campus. Depending on the personal safety app features, students can also select family or friends as "guardians" to receive continuous updates of their location as they navigate through campus.
3. Emergency Call Button. In the middle of an incident or immediately after, it can be tough to remember the 10 digit number for campus security. With an emergency call button, if a student were to call 9-1-1 or campus security, campus safety would be notified automatically through their management console. Whether it’s a phone call or a text to campus security, students have multiple routes of getting in contact with the right people to keep them safe.
These are a few ways to better engage with the campus community and having the right tools and technology will only help. To learn more about different ways your campus can improve safety engagement, check out this whitepaper.
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