Student safety ambassadors help launch “Safer Together” campus initiative

 Portland State Interim President Stephen Percy is launching a “Safer Together” initiative that advances the comprehensive campus safety plan that he announced in October.

“We all have a role to play in working toward a safe and secure campus. That’s the shared responsibility behind Safer Together.”

Starting this winter, a key element of the safety plan is hiring and training new student safety ambassadors who will help patrol campus, answer questions, refer people to campus resources and provide assistance. The idea was proposed by students last year and incorporated by President Percy in his plan. The first four safety ambassadors are PSU students Aseel Alattabi, Briana Benson, Liam Cole and Camila Oliveira.

“They’ll be the eyes and ears for us and for the community,” says PSU Campus Public Safety Interim Chief Joe Schilling.

Each safety ambassador will wear a green Viking cap and a uniform that includes a fluorescent safety vest labeled “Safety Ambassador.”  They start campus patrols in February after a month of CPSO training. The ambassadors are paid positions selected by campus leaders. The new ambassadors will be joined by six more to be hired in the coming months.

Other highlights of Safer Together include:

Campus Public Safety Office has hired two new police officers, who will graduate from training in May, and two new dispatchers to help with 24/7 campus coverage. CPSO also is enhancing training beyond state requirements to include six months of field training in PSU-specific areas such as de-escalation techniques, multicultural competency, first aid and CPR. A new post-academy training component is added that provides immersive interactive training exercises and assessment to help officers develop their skills.

CPSO safety tips include: Don’t leave belongings in your car; take electronics such as phone and laptop with you when you go to the restroom and try to walk around campus and the city in pairs or groups at night. For more resources, visit CPSO’s website.  For emergencies, call CPSO at 503-725-5911.

Sign up for PSU alert to receive timely information during a campus emergency or inclement weather.  PSU Alert is the best way to get critical information via multiple channels, such as text and phone.

The University Public Safety Oversight Committee has increased authority to review CPSO training and investigations, among other responsibilities under the president’s safety plan. For example, UPSOC is tasked with developing an equity lens to apply to planning, recommendations and oversight related to campus safety. The committee is made up of students, faculty, staff and community members and reports directly to the president. It is recruiting new members to expand expertise and has formed several new subcommittees to help select student safety ambassadors and review CPSO applicants.  

Building security and campus physical safety are being enhanced over the long term, such as building access, lighting, cameras, landscaping and other upgrades. For example, 40 security cameras have been installed around PSU’s residence halls. A new physical safety manager will be hired to oversee these campus safety projects.     
Safety escorts are available by request from CPSO campus safety officers or student ambassadors who will walk students, faculty, staff or visitors to their cars, student housing or other locations within and around the campus. Call CPSO at 503-725-4407 to request the service. 


C.A.R.E. Team in the Office of the Dean of Student Life assists PSU students facing barriers to their academic success. The C.A.R.E. team coordinates resources, information, services, and campus support networks; assesses risk, threat and well-being; responds during a crisis and to general concerns about behavior, student distress, and wellness; educates the university community to create and maintain an ethos of care. To contact the team, visit the Dean of Student Life office in Smith Memorial Student Union, Room 433, or call 503 725-4422.

The Dean of Student Life also administers PSU’s Student Code of Conduct that defines misconduct and the university’s process to address it.

The Center for Student Health and Counseling provides confidential mental health and physical health, dental services and testing services targeted to the needs of the PSU student population.

Global Diversity and Inclusion oversees a wide array of student support resources and staff as well as equity and compliance, such as discrimination complaints and other issues related to the federal Title IX law.    

Confidential advocates can be accessed in the Women’s Resource Center, Queer Resource Center and Diversity & Multicultural Services (all located in Smith Memorial Student Union) and the Native American Student and Community Center. For international students, contact International Student Services in the Karl Miller Building.

Digital security is increasingly important at PSU for students, staff and faculty, and the Office of Information Technology is taking steps to enhance digital security, such as having faculty and staff use duo two-factor authentication in signing on to PSU accounts to help protect their privacy and security.


Learn more about the safety plan by Interim President Percy.


Home page photo of student safety ambassadors, left to right: Liam Cole, Camila Oliveira and Aseel Alattabi.

Photo above. from left: Aseel Alattabi, Liam Cole, Interim President Stephen Percy, Brianna Benson and Camila Oliveira.

Story by Katy Swordfisk, Paige Parker Frank and Christopher Broderick.

Photos by Bruce Bradbury (home page) and Christopher Broderick (above).