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  • Nardin Ishak, Staff Writer

New Director of Campus Safety Sidd Saini prioritizes development, community connections

Sidd Saini, Campus Safety Director. Photo by Caramia Christensen

As Willamette University bids farewell to Andrew Fresh, Sidd Saini, the previous associate director of Campus Safety, stepped into his new role as the director of Campus Safety and Emergency Department on March 2 ready to bring fresh insights to the safety of the Salem campus community.

Saini brings a new perspective to the Campus Safety Department as he joins with a diverse and unique background. He came to the U.S. as a transfer student from India at 17 years old and graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in integrated technologies (IT). Though unrelated to his degree, Saini has a passion for public safety and finds fulfillment in working with students and contributing to his community.

“A lot of people usually wonder [why] I have a bachelor’s in IT and didn’t go work for Microsoft, but it wasn’t about my degree. My interest developed in public safety, as I love to help people in need, especially students on campus,” said Saini. “That was the major attraction to my role; it’s just that passion and excitement that come with knowing students are the future of our country and making sure they have a safe and positive environment where they have a sense of belonging. I want to be the person that can contribute to that.”

Despite his parents’ disapproval, Saini pursued his passion for public safety, initially with an interest in being an FBI agent. He had a few different positions at the Department of Homeland Security before moving on to be a police officer at the UW Tacoma campus, from which he’d previously graduated. He worked as a campus safety officer there while simultaneously acting as a community liaison, and recalls this time as a very special and joyful experience. 

Eventually, Saini moved on to become associate director of security at Whitman College in Walla Walla before being promoted to interim director of security within a year. For personal and geographical reasons, Saini looked into moving to Oregon and found a position at Willamette’s PNCA Campus in April of 2023 as associate director of campus safety.

Since Willamette, along with Whitman, is a part of the Northwest 5 Colleges Consortium, Saini had heard a lot about the campus and worked closely with the SEAL office as well as with Fresh himself. As the PNCA campus was advancing and moving in a new direction, Saini found himself excited to take on the new director role ten months later with hopes of initiating and implementing a fresh perspective. 

“Within that short time, here I am as the director of Campus Safety,” said Saini. Even though he’ll miss his time on the PNCA campus, he explained it felt like the right thing for him to take on the new role as he already knows the vision and mission of Willamette University.

As the associate director, Saini was supposed to work mainly on the Salem campus and partly at PNCA. However as the need for an associate director was much larger at the PNCA campus, it ended up becoming his primary location for the role. While there, Saini was able to help restructure the Campus Safety Department, issue new badges and uniforms, manage scheduling issues and create partnerships with stakeholders such as the deans, the Student Affairs Office, other campus offices and faculty, as well as the local Police Department and the campus-contracted security Echelon. 

As for his new position, Saini’s top priorities include updating the Emergency Preparedness Procedures to match the current gold standard, implementing new crisis management strategies, creating intervention and de-escalation training for the officers and ensuring they obtain Federal Emergency Management Agency Certifications. Besides his role’s responsibilities and duties, Saini also wants to build bridges with the student body and create connections through partnerships with the campus clubs and organizations. He has already begun taking part in on-campus events such as the Black Tie Affair where he helped as an attendant. 

Additionally, Saini would like to add more cameras, especially in parking lots such as the football field’s. He is hoping to deter and prevent individuals from breaking into students' cars, minimize bike theft, and increase the chances of catching individuals involved in break-in instances. Besides that, Saini aims to improve the Campus Safety vehicle by adding emergency lights in the rear end of their newly acquired Kia Sportage. In the future, when Campus Safety can afford the purchase, he added that a second vehicle would be helpful but maintained that the two current golf carts are a good alternative. 

Equally important, Saini shared that he will ensure students’ safety by informing them of any upcoming protests at the Capitol.  He is planning to do so by utilizing current protocols of providing timely warnings to the student body, as well as updating the community with information gathered from reliable sources. 

Furthermore, while there are current Emergency Preparedness Procedures in place for responding to weather emergencies, Saini noted that it is on his radar to update them for more efficient best practices of emergency management. Moreover, he highlighted the importance of training more individuals and assigning key role players who are able to jump in and help when needed. As for earthquakes, from a Campus Safety standpoint, there are Emergency Operation Centers that can be activated. This activation includes moving everyone to a safe location using the mass communication system, conducting a head count, then assessing damages and determining how and where to relocate students.

Besides his goals for the new role, Saini mentioned that being understaffed is a hurdle. Currently, the Willamette Campus Safety Department only consists of seven officers and three office and administrative staff members besides himself.

“I am a big fan of working in two, but I can’t be boots on the ground all the time within my manager role,” expressed Saini, adding that having more officers would allow for the possibility of having supervisors or lead officers, consequently creating a hierarchy that may prove to be helpful as responsibilities would be more spread out.

Lastly of Saini’s goals within the new role, he affirmed that transparency, clarity and honest communication are his keys to building trust with the student body. He hopes to be approachable and quickly responsive to all students, as well as encourages all community members to reach out to him in his office or via email with any questions, concerns or just to say hello.

Finally, Saini emphasized that in his work, it is vital to be in partnership with students, as they are the ones who can report concerns to ensure the safety of their community. “I try to put myself in a student's shoe[s] and respond that way,” said Saini. “Come talk to me and we will see what we can do to create an even safer environment for the Willamette community.”

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1 komentarz

09 kwi

Why did Andrew Fresh leave? He was at WU for less than a year. His predecessor lasted 35 years in the role. If you're going to report on Fresh's successor, you should explain why his predecessor left. Please do more journalism and less PR for the university.

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