The following letter was sent from Dr. Gil Burns (Dean for Faculty and Academic Programs at RUSVM, email: gburns[at]rossvet.edu.kn) to Ross University students on Sunday, May 8. Since spouses, families, and the citizens of St. Kitts also deserve to see this information, we are reproducing the letter in full. Please let us know your thoughts in the comment section below:
Dear RUSVM community member,
First and foremost, please know that your safety and security is a top priority for RUSVM, Ross University and DeVry, Inc. As an organization, we continue to review and assess our situation. Several weeks ago, representatives from DeVry Inc.’s security department visited St. Kitts to assess the RUSVM campus and surrounding areas. The focus of their assessment was to identify steps that can be taken to enhance security for faculty, students, and staff. John Kroen, Director of the DeVry, Inc., and his Security Team has formulated a series of actions and recommendations (with input from Helena Stangle-Bertram (Government Relations) and her team and Dr. Hal McCulloch, representing Ross University leadership in New Jersey), which I would like to share with you. RUSVM will continue to work closely with this team in the weeks and months to come to implement the recommended changes.
We can’t solve the safety and security problems we face by ourselves. We need widespread local cooperation. As you are aware, we have spoken with government officials and a variety of stakeholders on the island about working collaboratively to address recent growing safety concerns. The St. Kitts government will be important in resolving these issues and RUSVM realizes the situation will not change without the government and key entities working together to address safety.
Discussions about security on St. Kitts must be couched in an appropriate context. The responsibility for enforcing the laws of St. Kitts and Nevis lies with the police and defense forces of the Federation. RUSVM “security” forces largely play supportive and surveillance roles both on and off campus. It is also important to remember that, while living in St. Kitts affords truly wonderful opportunities, it also presents some challenges. Many of these challenges are not unique to St. Kitts. In our ever-changing world, each of us must adjust our expectations of daily life and routines, from those to which we have been accustomed in the past, to present day realities.
Although any level of crime and violence is too much, the recent spate of criminal activities has been particularly unsettling. As a result, RUSVM, along with the DeVry, Inc. and Ross University teams, are enacting some immediate-, mid-range, and long-term plans to strengthen security. To keep you informed of these plans, I have included general information on each and listed several steps (provided by our security consultant, John Kroen) you should take to enhance your personal security. At the end of the day, however, we can, and must, work together to improve security.
Steps being/to be taken:
Awareness training – Training will be conducted for students and faculty in late May to help you adjust your life style and to recognize some choices to avoid. A goal of the training will be to increase your awareness and understanding of the St. Kitts environment. Remember, a strategy that proved to be very effective in the US might meet with a different outcome in St. Kitts. Increased awareness will hopefully prevent you from being an easy target for criminals.
Increasing security capability and presence – Ross University will add two motorcycles to the roving patrols, add more security personnel to increase visibility and protection capability, and upgrade technology to improve communication between campus and the patrols. The RUSVM security team will also undergo training to improve knowledge and capability of response. Local police will continue to accompany RUSVM patrols. This is important, since RUSVM personnel are not authorized to arrest or detain suspects.
B. Mid-level planning:
Clustered housing – Ross University leadership is working with housing representatives to develop a clustering plan, with the goal of focusing security efforts on student and faculty residences in specific areas of the island. Improved security is more feasible in concentrated population areas, as opposed to the current scattering of residences across the island.
Collaborative efforts – RUSVM seeking to develop an alliance of stakeholders on the island, including both local business and government officials, to explore ways to enhance safety and security across St. Kitts. A goal will be to establish necessary timelines, monitoring, and continual refinement to ensure that sustainable improvements are made. Potential members might include the Prime Minister and his Ministry officials, Ross University, Windsor University, the International School of Nursing and Medicine, the Marriott Resort and Casino, Christophe Harbor Developments, and cruise ship representative(s).
C. Long-term planning:
Secure residential developments – RUSVM will encourage local developers to construct housing units with enhanced lighting, access control measures and procedures, perimeter and interior fencing, quad layouts and reinforced security checkpoints.
Ross University and DeVry Inc. are dedicated to providing faculty and students with a secure working and learning environment.
Leadership at all levels of the organization are engaged and focused on this goal. Collaboration between administration, faculty and students will help us react appropriately and proactively plan to mitigate the risks related to living and attending classes on St. Kitts.
Feedback and ideas can be sent to Keith Kramer, Assistant Dean for Student Life, kkramer[at]rossvet.edu.kn.
Do your part to improve safety and security on St. Kitts:
· Place the RUSVM security number (869) 465-6161 into speed dial on your cell phone and keep it within easy reach. Pay attention to landmarks around you so that you can summon help.
· Be alert and aware of your surroundings at all times. Don’t assume you are always safe. Your best protection is to avoid dangerous situations.
· If you are unsure about a venue, please consult RUSVM security personnel.
· Travel in groups.
· Trust your instincts. If you feel uncomfortable in any situation, leave.
· Walk confidently at a steady pace on the side of the street facing traffic, i.e. don’t look like a victim.
· Never give the impression that you are home alone if strangers telephone or come to the door.
· Be very cautious about those who ask to be invited to your residence. Do not entertain strangers at your residence, nor should you visit a stranger’s residence.
· If you arrive home and find a door or window open or signs of forced entry, do not enter. A perpetrator may still be present. Go to the nearest phone and call campus security.
· Keep your residence neat so you will notice disturbed or missing items quickly.
· Vary daily routines; avoid predictable patterns.
· Use quality locks and keep doors locked whether you are at your residence or not.
· Have window locks installed on all windows and use them.
· A dog can be a deterrent to criminals. Remember, however, that even the best watchdog can be controlled by food or poison.
· Choose a residence that offers the most security and is located near other students or faculty.
· If you observe any unusual activity, report it immediately to campus security.
· Consider using timers to turn on outside and inside lights automatically at various times throughout the night.
· When you aren’t home, if you use a telephone answering machine, turn off the ringer on the telephone. If you don’t have an answering machine, unplug or turn off ringers on all telephones.
· Lock all jewelry, important papers, currency, and other valuable portables in a safe place such as a safe deposit box or home safe.
· Don’t wear excess jewelry, and reduce wallet/purse contents.
· Be alert to overly friendly locals who may have criminal intentions.
· Never leave valuables exposed or unattended, even in a locked case.
· When in your car, always keep the doors locked. Any time you drive through areas where your speed is significantly reduced, e.g. downtown during heavy traffic, keep your windows rolled up.
· Leave ample maneuvering space between your vehicle and the one in front of you. If you are approached by suspicious persons while you are stopped, do not roll down windows; rather drive away quickly.
· If another driver tries to force you to pull over or to cut you off, keep driving and try to get away.
· If you are being followed, never lead the person back to your home or stop and get out of your vehicle. Instead, drive to campus.
· If you are traveling alone and a car bumps into you, don’t get out of your locked vehicle. Activate your speed dial to campus security.
· Never, ever pick up hitchhikers!
· When you park, look for a spot that is well-lit and is close to a location where there are a lot of people. Lock valuables in the trunk, and lock all doors. Never leave valuables visible in your car.
The purpose of surveillance is to identify a potential target based on the security precautions that an individual takes, and the most suitable time, location, and method of attack. Surveillance may last for days or weeks. Naturally, the surveillance of a person who has set routines and who takes few precautions will take less time.
Detecting surveillance requires a fairly constant state of alertness and, therefore, must become a habit. A good sense of what is normal and what is unusual in your surroundings could be more important than any other type of security precaution you may take. Above all, do not hesitate to report any unusual event. If someone is observing you, they probably are watching your colleagues as well.
- Vary your routes and times of travel.
- Be familiar with your route and have alternate routes.
- Check regularly for surveillance.
- Report surveillance to RUSVM security as soon as you suspect it.
- Drive to campus, if you suspect that you are being followed.