Students affiliated with Keep Us Safe TU, an Instagram, Twitter and TikTok account that highlights crimes near Main Campus, met with Jennifer Griffin, the vice president for public safety on Dec. 20 to discuss students’ campus safety concerns.
Griffin reached out to John Mangan, a senior finance major and one of the managers of KUSTU, to correct previous KUSTU posts that contained inaccuracies.
“The meeting was just really to introduce everybody, to talk about campus safety, to talk about the information that they get and how we go through a validating process when we get information from anything,” Griffin said. “If we get a call for service for shots fired, how we go through and kind of handle that here as the campus safety level.”
Mangan created the Instagram account in November, with the goal of holding Temple accountable for a lack of transparency in reporting crimes near campus. KUSTU is managed by Mangan, along with Temple students Nate Weinberg, Sophie Marcotte, Sophie Mettille, Adam Pysher and Maya Showell.
The page has been gaining popularity and has more than 4,000 followers on Instagram since launching in November, becoming a source for students looking to stay updated regarding off-campus safety.
The team’s strategy for posting consists of two main processes. First, the victim of a crime reaches out to KUSTU if it happened in the Temple University Police patrol zone, then KUTSU follows up to confirm details from a police source from Philly Crime Update, a social media account that reports crimes in the city of Philadelphia, Mangan said.
KUSTU also monitors different neighborhood safety apps, like Citizen, and waits for confirmed reports from police before posting on their own account.
During the group’s meeting with Griffin, they discussed what students feel is a lack of communication from the university regarding incidents, like an arson incident at a rowhouse on Cleveland Street near Norris on Nov. 15 and home invasions on Nov. 11 and Nov. 21, said Mangan, a senior finance major.
They also discussed the expanded FLIGHT shuttle service, the new manager of messaging and communications position and promises made by the university to increase security after the fatal shooting of a Temple student last year.
Griffin offered KUSTU insight as to the university’s improved security measures, and proposed working together to discuss potential solutions to enhancing student safety like installing lights and other system upgrades, Mangan said.
Mangan founded the account because he believes Temple’s current methods of alerting students aren’t effective, like instances in which the university has reported incidents days or weeks after they occurred.
“It seems like a lot of the information was people were hearing from secondhand sources and from students,” Mangan said. “We weren’t getting any statements from Temple.”
Griffin’s department is working to hire a manager of messaging and communications to improve informing students about campus safety issues.
“This person’s sole job will be really to develop soon and enhance our communication and as part of those enhancements the public safety website is currently being completely redesigned to increase our transparency, engagement and even locating information and resources for our community,” Griffin said.
In January 2022, Temple created the Violence Reduction Task Force, composed of students, employees, parents and community members, to examine existing violence reduction measures at Temple and efforts at other institutions and collaborations violence reduction and communication strategies.
The account is more relevant to students who live off campus, and it’s a useful page, said Hannah Palmer, a freshman secondary education social studies major.
“It’s not really as relevant for me since I do live on campus,” Palmer said. “It’s really nice for people that do live off campus to get alerts as to what’s going on and I feel like [KUSTU is] pretty on it unlike TUalert EMER is now and like Citizen as well.”
Palmer believes that the KUSTU team meeting with Griffin is a positive first step towards improving campus safety, she said.
“It’s a good thing, but has Jennifer Griffin really done anything?” Palmer said. “I don’t know, I think it’s a good first step, but we can always work towards better things and I haven’t seen any immediate action done other than that town hall.”
The university needs to take a more active role in addressing campus safety concerns, said Kaylie McCallion, a freshman health professions major, who uses KUTSU to stay alert on crimes that happen around campus.
“I think it’s kind of in the university’s hands at this point, they have to want to make a difference,” McCallion said. “These students can only take things so far, so I think the university really needs to step up and do their part in this situation.”