The Oberlin Review

Safety and Security, Student Health Will Move to Dascomb

Justin Bank

Justin Bank

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Students returning to campus this fall should expect to see a new Office of Safety and Security and new Health Services Center housed in Dascomb Hall. With the closing of the dining hall, renovations to the space are expected to begin after commencement.

Last year, Safety and Security officers expressed a need for a new space. After considering different spaces to move Safety and Security — including Carnegie Building — the administration chose Dascomb Hall as the final location.

“We’re real happy about it, primarily because it’ll be so much more convenient for the students in a central location,” said Director of Safety and Security Michael Martinsen. “In the end, I’m glad that Carnegie didn’t work out, because this new place is more centrally located for people on the south side of the campus as well. They don’t have to walk as far to utilize our space. It puts us in a nice proximity to Wilder Hall, Mudd library, and the open space areas.”

Vice President and Dean of Students Meredith Raimondo supervised the conversations concerning this move for Safety and Security and Health and Counseling Services. Once the construction plan and budget is finalized, construction companies will bid to renovate the space.

“Student Senate has made the case for several years that the location of Student Health and the Counseling Center created barriers to access for students,” Raimondo said, “The campus shuttle that started this fall was an interim step designed to reduce the barriers created by distance. The opportunity to move these programs to central campus further addresses this concern.”

Prioritizing Safety and Security’s relocation to Dascomb was a matter of accessibility for students and staff. According to Martinsen, the current house for Safety and Security on West Lorain Street is hundreds of years old. Besides the building’s age, there is only one bathroom on the second floor of the house, and the floor is not level. The building is also not compliant with Americans with Disabilites Act requirements.

“One of the issues we’ve had over the years of being in here is that [the current Office of Safety and Security is] not handicap accessible,” said Assistant Director of Safety and Security Clifton Barnes.

The building’s layout is also problematic for staff. Martinsen’s predecessor, former Director Marjorie Burton, “had some physical maladies that would have been a lot easier if she’d been on one floor or had something with a little more ADA compliance,” Barnes said.

Martinsen hopes that the new space will come with new opportunities for Safety and Security.

“I think it’s going to provide a more suitable environment for providing instruction to small groups of people,” Martinsen said. With new officers added to Safety and Security this year, staff hope the relocation will provide better avenues for training.

In the new space, Martinsen plans to set up a table outside the building at different times during the week to answer student questions about topics like law enforcement, crime prevention, and fire safety.

“Part of the plan was to have an area where we can do a little bit more on the way of training,” Barnes said. “We’re kind of limited with the conference room [in the current Safety and Security house].” The new space, Raimondo says, will increase safety.

“Safety and Security will have sufficient room to support community members in crisis more effectively and will provide a safer, more functional environment for this 24-hour, 7-days-a-week operation,” Raimondo said.

In the new space, there will be a wall separating the Offices of Safety and Security and Health and Counseling Services with the aim of maintaining privacy between the different departments. Martinsen, Barnes, and Raimondo view confidentiality as a priority for this new space — especially given the housing of multiple departments in the same building. Barnes’ current office is a walk-through between a conference room and other offices. This space, according to Barnes and Martinsen, limits the level of confidentiality Barnes can ensure to the students who meet with him.

New renovations will include measures to increase confidentiality within departments as well. The current layout plan for the renovations include a conference room for mediation between students as well as smaller rooms to separate parties.

The budget for the renovation has yet to be finalized. According to Raimondo, funds for construction will come from the pre-existing summer renovations budget.

Martinsen hopes that the move will allow students to see the departments as a more accessible resource. “Students in the past who would think, ‘I don’t want to make a special trip down there’ maybe will be more likely to stop in [to the new offices] with any questions they have,” Martinsen said.

Director of Student Health and Counseling Services John Harshbarger declined to comment on Health and Counseling Services’ planned move.

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