M.U.M. campus safety committee releases report

The committee charged with evaluating Maharishi University of Management’s campus safety policies after the March 1 stabbing death of Levi Butler, a university freshman from California, has released its final report.

The 58-page document, which is available in electronic form at www.mum.edu/pdf/safety_report.pdfPDF file, includes guidelines for when incidents on campus should be reported to campus security and recommends establishing a safety education program for students, faculty and staff. It also recommends having a full-time director of campus safety, a suggestion the university is in the process of implementing.

After Butler’s death, M.U.M. came under fire for not reporting an incident earlier that day, in which student John Killian was stabbed in the face with a pen during class, to campus security or police. Shuvender Sem, a student from Pennsylvania, was charged with both the classroom attack and the murder of Butler, who was stabbed that evening in the university dining hall.

“The committee’s purposes were remedial, not fault finding — to recommend changes to minimize foreseeable risks, from any direction, to the greatest extent possible,” the Campus Safety Review Committee wrote in its report.

The report says thresholds for reporting incidents to campus security need to be clearly defined, with the following types of incidents being reported:

• All actual or suspected criminal activity.

• Violence or threats of violence.

• Acts or behaviors that appear to pose a risk of danger to the individual or to others.

Asked whether this policy would have resulted in the classroom attack being reported to campus security, M.U.M. executive vice president Craig Pearson said, “the answer would have to be yes.”

However, Pearson also said hindsight enters into the equation, and defended the actions of the faculty members and staff who responded to the incident.

“At that moment, four very alert, experienced, highly responsible people … made the best judgment they could at that time,” he said.

“Peace was restored so quickly and [Sem] was so cooperative,” Pearson said, that the staff members didn’t feel it was necessary to notify security. He described their actions, which included moving Sem out of his dormitory and making arrangements to send him home, as “proactive.”

In the future, Pearson said, university policy will state that security should be notified of incidents meeting any of the three criteria outlined by the report. Those criteria are not in the university’s policy now, but will be in the revised policy.

The question of whether to notify police would be left up to campus security, Pearson said. The relevant administrators — for example, the dean of students if the incident involved a student — would also be part of the process.

Although the campus safety policy will not spell out when the university would notify police, Pearson said, “they would err on the side of caution.”


(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
The Fairfield Ledger, USA
July 30, 2004
Erik Gable, Ledger assistant news editor
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Religion News Blog posted this on Saturday July 31, 2004.
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