Reimagining Campus Public Safety


Purpose: The purpose of the Reimagine Campus Safety Committee (RCSC) is to meet this current moment on our campus through co-creating a comprehensive plan for the individual and collective well-being of Portland State students, staff, faculty, administrators, and visitors. Consistent with Portland State’s history and mission as an urban-serving institution of higher education, the RCSC will engage in a collaborative process to understand the array of safety needs of the campus community and to reimagine an approach to meeting those needs that reflects our commitment to racial justice and human dignity. We must develop new strategies and new methods that end the legacy of anti-Black outcomes in traditional approaches to community safety, and we must do so in a way that calls forth a new vision of a welcoming campus that promotes well-being and creates the conditions for genuine belonging for all members of the PSU community.

The work of the Reimagine Campus Safety Committee will complement the vital and ongoing role of the University Public Safety Oversight Committee (UPSOC), including review of CPSO policies and practices, general oversight, to ensure a respectful system of public safety. In connection with UPSOC, the RCSC will function in a time-limited manner to develop a fresh set of recommendations for presentation to President Stephen Percy and the Board of Trustees. The work of UPSOC will continue as the new plan is implemented, evaluated, and, as needed, revised, into the foreseeable future. 

Expectations for the Committee: The Office of the President and the Board of Trustees, along with the many voices expressing a deep desire for fundamental change relative to campus public safety, hope and expect that the RCSC will articulate a collective vision for welcome, belonging, and well-being at Portland State and recommend institutional actions to manifest it. To that end, the Committee shall do the following:

  • Ground its work in PSU’s commitment to eliminate racism, end centuries of anti-Black oppression, and safeguard the dignity of all individuals who visit the PSU campus and are part of our global community. 
  • Operate in the spirit of inquiry, action, and critical reflection, through seeking to understand the full range of perspectives represented by PSU’s diverse community, engaging in challenging dialogue across difference, and co-creating inclusive recommendations to create a campus marked by safety, security, and welcome for all. 
  • Draw upon and utilize expertise from within our campus and from the communities within which PSU is situated and serves.
  • Examine evidence and data drawn from public safety reports and records, as well as other key sources of data, including but not limited to annual Clery reports. 
  • Recognize that this work is essential, difficult, and consequential, and commit to joining together in productive collective action towards a new PSU.

Charge to the Committee:

The Committee will create a set of recommendations for advancing campus public safety relevant to the current and anticipated needs of the greater PSU community, which will reflect the following elements:

  • The development of institutional approaches to creating and maintaining campus safety, security, and well-being grounded in the tremendous strengths already present at PSU. These approaches will advance PSU’s commitment to human dignity for all persons and be informed by promising practices from multiple fields. The RCSC will uplift campus expertise and insights and identify community partners who will contribute to this work. 
  • A deepened understanding of the lived experiences of members of the campus community relative to campus safety, security, and well-being, and the experiences of members of the larger community who visit and collaborate with PSU in multiple ways. 
  • An analysis of the extent and type of potential safety incidents where deadly weapons are present and an identification of strategies for how PSU can address these incidents effectively. This analysis will be grounded in the Committee’s learning about and from the two elements above. 
  • An examination of building access and the institutional policies and practices that will simultaneously support the safety and security of persons who work, learn, and teach in PSU buildings and the visitors to campus who experience crisis.
  • The development of an evaluation plan and an identification of accountability measures and processes, in alignment with the purpose and expectations listed above.
  • A collaborative review of the current charter of the University Public Safety Oversight Committee (UPSOC) and jointly crafted recommendations that will advance the safety oversight and campus engagement missions of UPSOC.

Structure and Membership of the RCSC:

The membership of the RCSC will be determined collaboratively between institutional and faculty leadership and the Steering Team and will include representatives from the following:

  • Faculty Senate, to include faculty and academic professionals
  • Student Senate, ASPSU
  • University Public Safety Oversight Committee 
  • Campus Public Safety Office 
  • School of Gender, Race, and Nations 
  • Homelessness Research & Action Collaborative 
  • Division of Multicultural Student Services 
  • President’s Executive Council 
  • Library
  • Staff 
  • Adjunct faculty 
  • Alumni 
  • Community Member(s)

Serving as liaison among the RCSC, the Office of the President, and the PSU Board of Trustees, the RCSC Steering Team includes the following individuals: 

  • Jose Coll, Dean of the School of Social Work
  • Vicki Reitenauer, Faculty in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and incoming Presiding Officer Elect of the Faculty Senate
  • Motutama Sipelii, President, Associated Students of Portland State University
  • Ed Washington, Director of Community Outreach and Engagement, Office of Global Diversity and Inclusion

The Steering Team has accepted the following responsibilities: 

  • Overseeing the work and progress of the RCSC to ensure inclusion of diverse voices and perspectives. 
  • Assisting with the selection of the RCSC and the members of task groups. 
  • Monitoring the work of task groups and sharing their work with the RCSC. 
  • Coordinating staff assigned to assist in the RCSC’s work and plan development.

Additionally, given that a successful reimagination of campus safety necessarily involves a collaborative co-construction of new approaches and ideas, a set of task groups (to include members of the RCSC) will be created to investigate possibilities and to inform the recommendations of the RCSC. Task groups will be composed of PSU students, faculty, staff, and administrators drawn from units with knowledge and expertise related to key questions and issues central to the reimagination of campus safety. Each group will explore its topic area, taking advantage of campus expertise and relevant research. Community organizations and leaders will contribute here as well. 

Each group will develop recommendations (with multiple options, if relevant) about how campus safety can be advanced, guided by an inclusive vision of welcome, belonging, and well-being. In other words, beyond imagining how to prevent what we don’t want at PSU, the task groups will consider what we do want, and how we may collectively go about creating it. 

The following is a draft list of possible task groups; the RCSC will consider this configuration and may choose to revise it. 

  • Understanding safety needs: A task group will utilize existing data to understand the lived experiences of members of the campus community relative to campus safety, security, and well-being and will develop recommendations to enhance those experiences. 
  • Responding to individuals in crisis: A task group will explore and make recommendations for identifying and assisting visitors to campus who are experiencing mental or physical distress, houselessness, and other forms of crisis.
  • Building security: A task group will explore concerns and experiences related to the safety of campus buildings and the people who work and learn in them, with special attention to building access.
  • Use of force: A task group will explore how often and under what circumstances persons on campus are likely to experience an incident involving deadly weapons (e.g., an active-shooter event). How should the campus ensure an effective response to such potential events?

Community Engagement:

PSU prides itself on its engagement with and commitment to Portland and the metropolitan region that surrounds it. It is therefore vital that community voices contribute to our reimagination planning. Community participation is anticipated for both the Reimagine Campus Safety Committee itself and the affiliated task groups.

Facilitation and Other Support:

The work to reimagine campus public safety on an expedited timeline will require that the University supports the RCSC and task groups with the resources they need to carry out their work thoroughly and equitably. This may include the following:

  • Participant recognition: The work of the RCSC is anticipated to require a significant commitment of time for some members of the committee and task groups. Members will receive recognition for their participation in the RCSC.
  • Facilitation: To the extent desired by the RCSC, the University will support internal and/or external consultants for facilitation of Committee and task force deliberations and decision making.
  • Expertise: Significant and substantial expertise in many academic disciplines and service/practitioner experience exists at PSU and will be essential to the reimagination efforts. It is possible that some support external to the campus might be useful. The University will provide support for expenses associated with acquisition of relevant expertise.
  • Administrative Support: The University will provide administrative support for the work of the RCSC, the Steering Team, and the task groups.

Process and Timeline:

There is urgency to this important work, which will begin immediately. At the same time, the work must also be thorough and fully informed by the campus community. To that end, the Steering Team invites self-nominations for membership on the Reimagine Campus Safety Committee and/or on the task groups identified here. To indicate your interest in participating on the RCSC and/or on one or more task groups, complete this self-nomination form by Friday, October 16.

Following the receipt of self-nominations, the Steering Team will first identify participants for the RCSC no later than the end of October. The Committee will then review the remaining self-nominations to create the task groups and will develop the timeline from there. 

If the RCSC’s charge, as indicated above, has not been completed by the end of Fall term (as is likely), the Committee will prepare an interim report for the campus community (including President Percy and the Board of Trustees) for distribution, along with a projected, detailed timeline for the completion of its recommendations.

RCSC Steering Committee

Jose Coll

Jose Coll is the current Dean of the School of Social Work at Portland State University and has held administrative and faculty positions at Texas State University, University of Southern California, and Saint Leo University. His research interests have been predominantly on worldview development and counseling veterans with a focus on veteran transition. He is the author and co-editor of numerous publications, including:  The Counselors Primer for Counseling Veterans, Linus Publications; co-editor of The Handbook of Military Social Work, Wiley Press; Student Veterans in Higher Education: A Primer for Administrators, Faculty, and Advisors, Lyceum Books and most recent Civilian Lives of U.S. Veterans: Issues and Identities, Praeger Publishing. He is a graduate of the American Council on Education (ACE) Fellows Program, University of California, Berkeley, Executive Leadership Academy (ELA), Harvard’s Institute for Management Development Program (MDP), Harvard’s Institute for Management and Leadership in Education (MLE).

Vicki Reitenauer

Vicki Reitenauer serves on the faculty of the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies department, developing and teaching both discipline-specific and general-education courses, including community-based learning experiences; employing critical pedagogies and reflective practice for integrative, transformative, liberatory learning; building and sustaining community partnerships; facilitating relational faculty support processes; and co-creating faculty-led assessment practices. She is also the current presiding officer elect of the Faculty Senate. To schedule time to share your perspectives on reimagining campus safety, email Vicki at

Motutama Sipelli

Motutama Nogotau Sipelii is the first Samoan to be elected as the Student Body President for Affiliated Students of Portland State University. The Samoana High School graduate and son of Utulei was Student Government Association President at the American Samoa Community College. And this he says prepared him for his student leadership role at PSU. Motutama, 22, is a pre med student majoring in health science and biology at PSU and plans to apply to med school hopefully getting in a duel MD and Masters in Public Health Program. His goal is to return home and build a research lab and develop health care related policies for American Samoa.

Ed Washington

Ed Washington is a civil rights leader and member of the Portland NAACP.  In 1991, Ed was appointed, then later elected the first African American councilor for the Metro Council, the regional government of the Portland metropolitan area. He served in this capacity from 1991-2001. Ed continues to serve as the Community Liaison for Diversity Initiatives & Inclusion for Portland State University, and as an adjunct professor for Portland Community College. In 1959, Ed married Jean Nova, a music teacher at Alameda Elementary School who was the first black chairwoman of Portland Music Educators. Ed and Jean remained together until she passed away in 1998.

RCSC Committee Members

  • Stephanie Wahab - Professor, School of  Social  Work
  • Andres Guzman - Coordinator for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion; College of Education
  • Kim Kahn - Associate Professor, Department of Psychology
  • Scott Merriman - Student, The School of Business
  • Debra Mayo Kelley - Director of Academic Employee and Labor Relations, Office of Academic Affairs
  • Marcy Hunt - Director, Counseling Services, Center for Student Health and Counseling
  • Shawn Canny- Master of Urban and Regional Planning Candidate, College of Urban and Public Affairs
  • Michaela Loggins - Student, Black Studies and Pre-Med
  • Crystal Tenty - Admissions Counselor, Office of Undergraduate Admissions
  • Molly Gunderson - Interim Assistant Dean, Portland State University Library
  • Vvdaul Holloway - Coordinator of Black, African American, & African Student Services, Global Diversity and Inclusion
  • Charlie Evans - Officer, Campus Public Safety
  • Zachary Mettler - Master of in Urban and Regional Planning Candidate, College of Urban and Public Affairs
  • Yves Labissiere - Associate Professor, School of Public Health
  • Roberto Valentin - Assistant Director for Residential Education, University Housing & Residence Life

  • Reimagining Campus Safety Reports & Resources