In an effort to increase campus safety and prevent possible terrorist attacks, the University of Wisconsin has shifted construction goals from just visual and practical values to include security measures.
The university installed a four-foot tall concrete block retaining wall along Dayton Street in front of the Kohl Center and several concrete planters along Monroe Street next to Camp Randall with this goal in mind.
According to Gary Brown, UW’s Director of Planning and Landscape Architecture, the purpose of the construction is not only landscaping but also security. The objective is to prevent dangerous vehicles from getting close to the buildings on event days.
The Kohl Center and Camp Randall have undergone recent changes because of their size and the large events held there, according to Brown.
“Anytime you have a large amount of people getting together at a public event, you need to plan for their safety and security,” Brown said.
A part of Brown’s job on campus is to ensure the construction designs balances both landscape and safety elements.
“Creative solutions can be developed to provide safe and secure facilities without giving the sense of being fenced in or barricaded from any and all threats,” Brown added.
Although security measures have been taken, UW Police Department Chief and associate Vice Chancellor for Protective Services Susan Riseling said in an e-mail students should not worry about their safety on campus.
“The steps we have taken protect everyone equally from the wrong people getting their hands on the wrong things,” Riseling wrote. Riseling added she believes college students participate in risky activities daily that pose a greater threat than a potential terrorist attacks.
Riseling said she was unable to comment on much of the securities measures taken on campus but acknowledged much has changed since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Some of these changes include increased training of police officers, detection dogs, review of every campus building’s security and an advanced version of the university’s crisis plan.
A crucial aspect to maintaining campus safety, according to Riseling, is how police respond to any situation.
“We are taking an ‘all hazards’ approach now,” Riseling said. “Actions or precautions one takes should have more than one application.”
Regardless of the type of disaster, police and university management make use of the same response system. Riseling believes this gives opportunity for more practice and greater reliability.
The “all hazards” approach includes protecting sensitive research sites. Physical security of such sites has already been improved, according to Riseling.
“We have planned for future building needs involving different types of research which may or may not someday be controversial,” Riseling added.
Money to fund construction and increased security measures comes from both the university and the federal government’s Department of Homeland Security.
While many universities are taking similar precautions as UW, not all universities receive federal funding, according to Riseling.
Having walked by the Kohl Center several times, Natalie Fandrey, a UW junior, was unaware of the purpose of the construction.
“I had no idea it had anything to do with terrorism,” Fandrey said. “Now knowing its purpose, it seems a little scary. However, its always best to be safe than to be sorry.”