07/27/12 — WCC board approves safety policy

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WCC board approves safety policy

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on July 27, 2012 1:46 PM

The Wayne Community College Board of Trustees has approved a policy provision designed to protect the campus against security threats from applicants without compromising its "open door" admission stance.

The measure gives the college the authority to deny admission to an applicant "who poses an articulable, imminent and significant threat to the safety of the applicant or others."

In recent years, colleges and schools across the nation have been forced to shore up safety procedures. But such procedures have to be worded in such a way as to preserve the college's open admissions policy, which has been in place for years.

The new safety rules, adopted by the state board of community colleges, went into effect June 1 and are currently being implemented at all 58 community colleges around the state.

Essentially, the exemption to the current policy only pertains to students applying to the college. Once admitted as a student, the "student code of conduct" rules apply.

Dr. Peggy Teague, vice president for academic services, said there has been no widespread problem to speak of, although occasionally the college has had issues, citing examples of disgruntled or frustrated students in the areas of financial aid and admissions.

"We do not anticipate this being used a lot. There are some exceptions, because right now we have no way of dealing with it," she said.

Bill Thompson, associate vice president for institutional advancement, said the purpose is to preserve the overall admissions policy, while giving the college latitude in dealing with applicants coming through the front door.

"We don't anticipate that we would use this," he said. "It gives us a little more teeth. We don't have any now."

Board members agreed the issue required immediate action.

"Right now, we have no way to deny them admission because we have no policy at all and it's not just our college," trustees Chairman Gwyn Wilson said.

"I think this is good," board member Andy Evans added. "But I go back to what our council said, it's written loosely enough for us to work within the lines.

"All I'm saying is, from the board of trustees to our employees, don't shortchange yourselves. Utilize it."

Having such a provision in place is like having an insurance policy, Ms. Wilson said.

"Once (a) situation is presented, then we can handle it in a way to give the student due process but also in a way to protect the safety of our staff and students," she said.

"I think we owe it to the staff and students to move ahead with this," board member Dr. Michael Gooden said.

The board also approved two other policies relating to workplace harassment and diversity.

The first guarantees employees the right to work in an environment free from harassment and retaliation and prohibits them from engaging in such conduct. The diversity policy says that the college is committed to fostering a multicultural educational environment that reflects its cultural composition and serves all segments of society.

As the college readies for another year, with classes to begin Aug. 16, officials said student numbers to date are promising, with one more round of registration coming up Aug. 14 and 15.

During his finance committee report, board member Sam Hunter also noted that this past year was especially impressive in the area of financial aid.

"Institutional funds continued to grow all year," Hunter said, noting that more than $8.4 million was awarded through new grants and increased funding for federal grants.

Work study funds also totaled $117,502, he said, while $722,432 in scholarships were awarded -- $215,398 of that from the college Foundation.