3.11.2 Institutional Environment

The institution takes reasonable steps to provide a healthy, safe, and secure environment for all members of the campus community.

Judgment of Compliance

PVAMU SACS Accreditation - Judgement Compliance

Narrative of Compliance

Prairie View A&M University offers a healthy, safe, and secure environment to students, faculty, staff, and visitors by adhering to federal, state, system, and institutional regulations. The Department of Residential Life, the Department of Public Safety and the Office of Environmental Health and Safety are lead units in ensuring the campus is an appropriate place to work, study and live. Under the Student Conduct Code and Faculty Handbook, students and faculty are advised of their rights, responsibilities, and prohibited conduct [1] [2], and the University has clear policies about issues such as sexual harassment, smoking, and traffic safety. Additional steps to educate the campus community about security and safety come from memos from the Vice-President Business Affairs, disseminated through campus e-mail, and the Panther Alert system.

Department of Residential Life
The Department of Residential Life at Prairie View A&M University is committed to providing an academically focused, student centered, structured environment where students "live in a safe, secure, healthy, and clean environment" [3]. The University College and Phases I, II, and III housing facilities are designed and operated with the safety of residents in mind, with electronic key-card, controlled building access, on-site staff, smoke detectors and alarms, and 24-hour emergency maintenance. Staff for each housing site include undergraduate resident assistants, graduate assistants that assist with conduct enforcement, and a Residence Hall Director, trained in conflict resolution, oversees the facility.

Members of the PVAMU Department of Public Safety (DPS) make presentations to all residence hall staff members during both spring and fall training sessions and to all campus housing residents during the first week of each semester. The Director of Environmental Safety holds random fire drills every semester, and staff members conduct room checks twice per month checking the condition of smoke detectors and overall sanitary conditions [4]. Part of the standard lease includes safety regulations, including a ban on candles and tampering with fire and emergency equipment. Overnight guests must register and receive approval [5]. Incident reports are used to track student altercations [6], and any hazardous building conditions are reported to DPS to be passed along to the physical plant's computerized work management and repair system.

To further reinforce respect for others and secure environments, the Student Conduct Code specifically prohibits the propping open of any doors on residential buildings, violating lease agreements in campus housing, and duplicating any keys or access cards.

Department of Public Safety
The Prairie View A&M University Department of Public Safety (DPS) derives law enforcement authority from the State of Texas Education Code Section 51.203 [7].  Prairie View A&M University Police officers must maintain training requirements as established by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, and they are sworn Peace Officers with full powers and authority of arrest based upon the statues established within Texas Criminal Procedures Article 2.12 [8].  All DPS officers and supervisory staff are armed and must pass annual firearms qualifications. The University DPS also coordinates with the Waller Police Department, Houston Police Department, Texas State Patrol, Texas Department of Public Safety, and particularly with the Prairie View Police Department on a regular basis to talk about trends in campus crime.

As of July 2009, the Department of Public Safety is staffed by 18 licensed and commissioned police officers, including the Chief of Police, Investigator, and Community Policing/Crime Prevention Coordinator/Crime Victims Assistance Coordinator, 9 security attendants, 4 dispatchers, and 3 support personnel.  The patrol division of the Department of Public Safety is charged with the task and responsibilities of providing a safe environment for the university community by protecting life and property.  Officers and attendants patrol the campus utilizing traditional vehicles, electric vehicles such as golf cars, GEM cars, and Segway devices, bicycle patrols, and foot patrols to cover the large campus effectively and to demonstrate a constant presence. Security attendants circulate at the J. B. Coleman Library, student residential dorms, and all parking lots. Their responsibilities include reporting prowlers, locking doors, issuing parking citations, checking visitors' identification, and reporting fires or water leaks [5]. In addition to patrolling the department offers the follow additional safety measures:

  • 32 emergency phones located within all parking lots and all residential housing areas on campus [9]
  • Escort service, provided both by DPS officers and the Panther Patrol (students who have passed a background check) [10]
  • Anonymous crime tip hot line at campus extension 2222 [11]
  • PVID program, which provides free engraving of property with a unique identifier to cut down on theft and streamline the return of recovered items
  • class presentations on self-defense, sexual assault, driving under the influence, binge drinking, and other personal security topics
  • partial campus lockdown during vacation periods

The Campus Security Report is published and distributed annually in compliance with the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy, Campus Crime Statistics Act, and Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 [5].

Environmental Health and Safety Department
The Environmental Health & Safety Department (EHSD) understands its mission to "establish processes that ensure applicable Environmental, Health, and Safety laws or regulations are met" on the Prairie View A&M University campus [12]. EHSD is responsible for providing information and implementing programs directed toward protecting the environment and the health and safety of faculty, staff, students, volunteers, visitors, and contractors. Key safety programs are identified in the Texas A&M System 24.01: Risk Management [13] and associated standards identified in the PVAMU Administrative Procedures [14].

All policies and procedures [15] comply with applicable federal, state, and local rules, regulations, and guidelines. Safety programs are audited, monitored and inspected periodically by third-party auditing teams such as the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), the Red Cross, the Texas Department of Insurance, the Environmental Protection Agency [16], and FM Global, the insurance provider for the Texas A&M system and risk management assessor.

Under the oversight of the Director of Environmental Health and Safety, hired in November 2008 [17], and the Safety Associate/Fire Marshal, the EHSD takes a proactive approach and has the authority to abate unsafe conditions or operations within the University when, in the professional opinion of the Director of Environmental Health and Safety or respective safety officer, the situation constitutes an imminent hazard to life and/or property. Programs that help prevent accidents and identify and correct potential risks / violations of standards include the following:

  • waste management, which oversees the design and implementation of methods to ensure the safe, environmentally responsible, lawful disposal of chemical or biological hazardous wastes [18];
  • technical assistance and compliance input for the physical plant in its handling of the University's wastewater treatment plant, which processes some two million gallons per day and is operated by Severn Trent [19] [20];
  • investigations of work-related safety incidents;
  • coordination of safety education and training programs as required by federal, state, and local laws and other policies, including classes on CPR and farm equipment safety [21];
  • ongoing fire prevention activities, including oversight of fire detection, response, and safety; review of construction and remodeling plans to ensure implementation of adequate fire safety provisions; periodic walk-through inspections of all PVAMU facilities at all campus locations; establishment of evacuation plans; fire drills; and fire extinguisher training [22];
  • protocols for laboratory safety, such as handling infectious agents, biohazards, or recombinant DNA; inspecting eyes washes and fume hoods; and designing appropriate laboratory safety training in electronic and traditional formats in conjunction with the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) [23] [24] [25];
  • an extensive Web collection of tip sheets on what to do in the case of chemical emergencies [26], bomb threats, power failures, fires, tornados, blood-borne pathogens, terrorist attacks, and importantly for the Gulf Coast area, hurricanes, including locations of evacuation shelters [27].

Currently the Texas A&M University Radiation Safety division is responsible for implementing procedures for assuring that PVAMU radioactive material and machine sources of ionizing and non-ionizing radiation are used in accordance with applicable rules [28]. The TAMU Radiation Safety division performs routine inspections and audits of institutional radiation facilities such as the NASA Center for Applied Radiation Research (CARR).

Additional Key Policies and Practices

Under Texas A&M System Policy 34.06.02, no handguns are permitted on campus except in the possession of sworn peace officers [29].

TAMUS Policy 34.05 allows each system institution to devise its own rules regarding smoking on the campus [30] Under PVAMU Administrative Procedure 60.07, smoking is banned in all university vehicles and buildings [31].

PVAMU Administrative Procedure 45.01 Traffic and Parking Regulations sets forth expectations for responsible driving, including campus speed limits and pedestrian safety [32].

Sexual Harassment
In keeping with the new Texas A&M System Policy 08.01: Civil Rights Protections and Compliance, which consolidated 13.01, 33.02, and 34.01 in December 2008 [33], the Faculty Handbook, Student Handbook, and PVAMU Policy Against Sexual Harassment [34], available online from the Office of Equal Opportunity, all clearly define and prohibit sexual harassment. Prairie View A&M also has in place procedures for investigating allegations of sexual harassment [35].

Memos from the Vice President for Business Affairs
The Vice President for Business Affairs (VPBA) distributes regular memos about security and environmental safety via e-mail campus announcements. Recent advisories have included requests for hazardous chemical inventory [36], information about fire extinguisher safety [37], and information about swine flu [38].

Emergency Mass Notification (Panther Alert)
In 2008, the Office of Business Affairs launched the Panther Alert System (PAS) to send quick notification of emergency situations via phone, text messages and/or e-mails. It uses the Wide Area Rapid Notification (WARN) redundant Web messaging platform, with privacy controls and SSL encryption for the security of personal data. Instructions for signing up are available on the University Website [39] and have been disseminated via campus e-mail to encourage participation [40].

Upcoming Emergency Plan and Business Continuity Plan
The Director of Environmental Health and Safety, in conjunction with the DPS Chief of Police, has been working on development of a campus-wide Emergency Plan. The University is currently in the final draft phase of the Emergency Plan, with completion anticipated prior to the calendar year’s end in compliance with the new Texas A&M System Policy 34.07.01 [41]. Each department is developing its own specific annexes, appendices and checklists based on their unique departmental needs and functions. The overall PVAMU Emergency Management Plan (EOP) Guideline is being designed to comply with National Incident Management System standards and will be tested using tabletop exercises and real-time drills. As part of the Emergency Plan, provisions must be made for catastrophic events / power loss that could affect computer servers and business functions; an outside vendor has been hired to draft a Business Continuity Plan, which also should be produced and tested by the end of the calendar year [42].

Supporting Documentation and Links


Comprehensive Standards 3.11.2

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