For the past year and a half, the Barnard community has considered how we can better cultivate a campus that is safe and welcoming to all. Through these thoughtful discussions, we realized that we need to reimagine our approach to community safety and well-being. To help drive that change, we are creating a new organizational unit called Community Accountability, Response, and Emergency Services (CARES).
CARES will bring together three critical areas under one umbrella — the CARES Response Team: Response, Compliance and Emergency Management; Community Safety; and Nondiscrimination & Title IX — to holistically reenvision Barnard’s approach to campus safety.
Every member of the community contributes to safety and well-being at Barnard, and we believe that refocusing our efforts on building a comprehensive approach to safety aligns with creating a safe and inclusive campus environment. The three areas of CARES broadly address preparedness and initial response, security and emergency response, and nondiscrimination outreach and response. This alignment emphasizes a collaborative approach that recognizes these areas both overlap and present unique needs. By utilizing the skills, experiences, and training of CARES, Community Safety, and Nondiscrimination team members to best position staff who contribute to safety efforts, we can and will create an environment that provides safety and dignity for all people.
We want to be responsive to our community and intentional in creating the type of campus in which we want to live and learn. In response to feedback gathered from community constituents over the past year, a number of points were identified that this restructure seeks to address. For example, Barnard’s Public Safety has been the default option for a wide range of issues (from unlocking doors to student crises) because it is the only 24-hour response operation. Developing a CARES team will allow a more holistic approach to well-being and quality-of-life matters.
Barnard has created a new position of Associate Vice President for Community Accountability, Response, and Emergency Services to lead the CARES team. The AVP for CARES will work with leadership in each of the three main areas to ensure that each team has the resources and training needed to serve effectively. The AVP will help foster collaboration among these areas, and lead development of a holistic strategy for safety and well-being. Finally, the AVP will serve as a liaison with other parts of the campus community, and provide high-level counsel to College leadership.
As announced, Dr. Amy Zavadil will be assuming this new role as the Associate Vice President for CARES. Reporting to both Jomysha Delgado Stephen, Executive Vice President of the College, and Roger Mosier, Vice President for Operations, Dr. Zavadil will work closely with the Community Safety Group to provide a broad, holistic strategic vision for campus safety, refine positions and structure within CARES and build relationships across our community.
Dr. Zavadil brings an extensive work history that informs her approach. Dr. Zavadil earned a Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision, with an emphasis in college student development and support staff who work with college students. She has spent more than a decade in higher education primarily in student conduct and compliance roles, including having served as the College’s Associate Dean for Equity and our inaugural Title IX Coordinator from 2011 to 2017. She then served as University of Dayton’s Equity Compliance Officer before returning to Barnard in the role of Interim Executive Director of Public Safety. Prior to transition to higher education, Dr. Zavadil was a police officer, having left a career in video and television production to contribute to community safety following the events of 9/11. She also served as a volunteer coordinator for a regional Community Emergency Response Team. This remarkable breadth of skills and experience, together with the relationships she has built across Barnard and the community, position her well to lead our evolving vision of community accountability, response and safety.
Often it takes a multifaceted approach to best respond to a particular need or situation. By bringing initial response, community safety, and nondiscrimination experts together under the CARES structure, we can enhance their collaboration with one another. At the leadership level, CARES will be able to foster a holistic strategy for safety and well-being.
This approach to safety begins with considering the elements - what is safety.
The CARES Line approach will define “response” as an initial outreach or call that may include crisis response and/or nonemergency calls. These circumstances may influence individual safety as situations (e.g., a panic attack, interpersonal conflict) may indeed be experienced as an ‘emergency’ to the individual and intervention will typically reduce likelihood or extent of escalation. Response can be coordinated to provide initial support in a timely manner. The immediate attention of a CARES team member will be on supportiveness and understanding the needs, identifying initial intervention and a smooth transition to follow-up response, coordinated collaboratively.
“Emergency response” is defined as an incident that is serious, unexpected, and often dangerous; a situation that poses an immediate threat to health, life, property, or immediate environment with high probability of escalating quickly/dangerously without quick intervention. These matters remain under primary purview of Community Safety. Emergency response will be supplemented with CARES Team Response providing community support.
Our Officers and Access Attendants will continue to provide critical support to campus security efforts in this new structure. Access Attendants will continue to staff residential building desks 24-hours a day when residence halls are occupied. Community Safety Officers will continue to provide specialized security functions, including patrolling the campus perimeter, observing and responding to mitigate risks or hazards, providing emergency response, and staffing the guard booths.
Over the last year we have provided enhanced training to our Public Safety Officers, including training in cultural competence, effective communication, and de-escalation techniques. By clarifying and focusing the officers’ responsibilities on their particular areas of expertise, in consultation with Community Safety staff and union leadership, the new structure will help us to continue providing a high-level of specialized training, as recommended by external investigators in 2019.
Specific changes in the operations and responsibilities of our CARES staff will emerge as we work together to develop this new team. But one change community members may expect to see is who responds to different kinds of situations. For instance, a person experiencing a health and wellness crisis might receive a response from one kind of professional, while somebody facing a threat of bodily harm would draw response from a different professional team member.
To help tailor those responses, in January we will launch the new nonemergency CARES Line which will provide a compassionate, supportive approach to community members needing assistance. The CARES Line team will provide initial intervention based on the nature of the call and will work collaboratively to smoothly transition the caller to the appropriate campus partners for additional follow-up when warranted. This will include swift referral of emergencies to the appropriate entities. See the timeline for the transition.
We plan to reorganize existing administrative staff and interim support to launch our new CARES response service, starting with the CARES Line call center in January. Staffing and training is underway to develop a CARES Response team. We will begin our search for the new Director of the CARES Response Team: Response, Compliance and Emergency Management after the first of the year.
Campus safety includes attention to actual and perceived experiences of campus climate. This is inextricably linked to individuals’ experiences of inclusion and personal safety, or otherwise. Working together, the CARES team can address issues with the greatest attention to protecting privacy when someone comes forward with a concern. Call Takers and Responders will work collaboratively with the Nondiscrimination & Title IX Office to provide appropriate responses to individual incidents as well as apply what is learned to community efforts that support the greater good.
The Community Safety name signals both an expanded understanding of what safety and well-being mean in a campus community, and a new approach to this units’ particular responsibilities.
Feedback informed this restructure and will be an important aspect of how CARES evolves moving forward. Concerns/complaints can be shared with the Office of Nondiscrimination & Title IX, the Office of Human Resources and/or the Associate Vice President for Community Accountability, Response, and Emergency Services (as appropriate). All concerns will be addressed promptly in accordance with the College’s policies and procedures.
Impact on College Operations
No. We are allocating our safety resources — human and material — toward a new approach to community safety that, as its acronym indicates, centers on care. The hope is that this reimaging and reallocation assists Barnard in taking proactive steps to end structural racism, while fostering a safe and welcoming campus. We are committed to the idea that we should all be more than bystanders, and start behaving as 'upstanders' – individuals who, when confronted with something wrong, take action to change the world for the better.
As part of a comprehensive approach to community safety, the College will in fact increase spending on services that support a range of health and safety needs. This includes the recently announced investment in the Francine A. LeFrak Foundation Center for Well-Being, investment in technology to improve security and streamline access considerations, and the development of the CARES response unit.
This new structure should enhance safety because it refocuses our Community Safety Officers on campus security and emergency services; compliance efforts will prioritize preparedness, prevention and risk mitigation; and with the addition of the CARES Response team, increases our ability to respond with expertise on the range of safety issues that arise on a college campus.
It is anticipated that building out the CARES response will include a combination of refocusing some existing administrative roles, including some retraining of existing administrative staff, and some new hires both initially and over time.
Barnard’s CARES Department and Columbia University Public Safety remain independent entities, led by their own institutions. CARES will continue to work closely with CU Public Safety and emergency services, the CU Title IX Coordinator and related offices.
The jurisdiction of Barnard’s Community Safety is limited to Barnard property. Situations that involve Barnard students but happen on Columbia’s campus are under the jurisdiction of Columbia’s Public Safety Department and are subject to that department’s policies, practices, and procedures, as well as those of Columbia University.
The College continues to enhance its use of technology to balance security and openness. Card readers have been installed at the main gate entrance to campus, and at entrance desks in most residence halls to expedite verification of active Barnard ID holders. In the current pandemic, campus access is limited to those holding a valid Barnard or Columbia ID and vendors in compliance with Enhanced Health and Safety Measures.
Nondiscrimination and Title IX
We are excited to have Dr. Elizabeth Scott-Francis on board, our new Director of Nondiscrimination and Title IX. She comes to Barnard from Juilliard, where she was Assistant Director, Office of Residence Life, and served as a member of the Title IX team. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Community Standards, specifically jurisdiction of the Student Code of Conduct, will remain under the Dean of the College division.
Since its origination in 2011, the role has always overseen the Policy Against Discrimination and Harassment, and the addition of Nondiscrimination to this title better reflects the broad scope of the role.
Privacy of individual(s) needs and experiences, and proper handling of records, are critical to supporting community safety. CARES is not a confidential resource, and will share only what is needed to those who need such information. Confidential support resources available to the community remain, such as Furman Counseling Center for students and the Employee Assistance Program for faculty and staff.
No, the Ombuds Office will not be affected by this reorganization. It will remain a separate office and continue to provide campus-wide resources to assist students, faculty and staff in dealing with a variety of Barnard-related issues and concerns.
Planning the CARES Structure
The CARES model grew out of extensive conversations and consultations over the last 18 months, beginning with an external investigation of Barnard’s public safety practices, protocols and training in 2019. The Community Safety Group, with broad representation of students, faculty, and staff, has played a critical role in identifying and considering the College’s needs. Finally, internal and external partners and experts have helped us to understand what it will take to effectively staff this new organization, further informing its shape and goals.
An important goal of the CARES office and initiative is to provide comprehensive and coordinated safety structures. This includes a dedication to on-going assessment and accountability and clear avenues for feedback, review, and course correction as needed.
The Barnard administration is grateful for the advocacy of our faculty, staff, students, and alums over the past few years, and we recognize that the College has not always acted swiftly or sufficiently to fully address concerns. This bold reenvisioning of campus safety comes as a result of many campus conversations — some specifically regarding community safety and some more broadly about race, gender identity, and racial justice. We believe that this community-generated approach to the restructuring will create lasting and systemic change.
The Community Safety Group (CSG) formed in April 2019, following Barnard Public Safety’s physical restraint of Columbia student Alexander McNab, has been central to informing the shifts happening in safety at Barnard. The CSG, chaired by VP for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Ariana González Stokas, reports directly to President Beilock and is charged with addressing issues related to campus safety. These include concerns about racial and other forms of bias and their consequences as well as understanding who feels welcome in different campus spaces and who does not. The goal of the CSG is to recommend and advise on necessary actions and steps that improve structures and policies for public safety relationship building, training, and community oversight. Moving forward, the CSG will continue to provide consultation on building out the functions of the newly created unit with additional input from faculty, staff, and student groups. If you would like to read more about the work of the CSG and its membership as well as provide feedback, please visit the CSG webpage.